Panama, 1913

Aerial view, 2013

One of the most spectacular, costly (in both money and lives) and ultimately productive engineering achievements of human history, the Panama Canal is something to see if you can swing a trip there.  Whether you can or not, historian David McCullogh’s The Path Between the Seas is a gripping account as history books go.

Traffic on the Canal

Shortly after the canal opened, American aviator R. G. Fowler shipped his 1912 Gage biplane to the site and made an epic “transcontinental” nonstop crossing from the Pacific to the Caribbean ends of the canal.  On board was a movie camera, and I think some of the aerial footage from the National Archives video below was from his flight.

The Gage biplane in which he made this flight survived to be preserved at the National Air & Space Museum, where it is an insufficiently appreciated exhibit at the museum’s Udvar Hazy Center next to Dulles airport in Virginia.