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Bone up on aviation history with Smithsonian book

  • This book cover image released by Smithsonian Books shows "The Smithsonian Book of Air & Space Trivia", edited by Amy Pastan. (AP Photo/Smithsonian Books)

    This book cover image released by Smithsonian Books shows "The Smithsonian Book of Air & Space Trivia", edited by Amy Pastan. (AP Photo/Smithsonian Books)

  • Wiley Post poses in his high altitude pressure suit near his airplane "Winnie Mae" prior to takeoff in an effort to break the altitude record in New York, 1934. Post, who helped design the suit with B.F. Goodrich engineers, holds his helmet that will make it possible for him to breath at high altitude.  The record he wants to beat is 44,819 feet, set by the French pilot Lemoine.  (AP Photo)

    Wiley Post poses in his high altitude pressure suit near his airplane "Winnie Mae" prior to takeoff in an effort to break the altitude record in New York, 1934. Post, who helped design the suit with B.F. Goodrich engineers, holds his helmet that will make it possible for him to breath at high altitude. The record he wants to beat is 44,819 feet, set by the French pilot Lemoine. (AP Photo)

  • This book cover image released by Smithsonian Books shows "The Smithsonian Book of Air & Space Trivia", edited by Amy Pastan. (AP Photo/Smithsonian Books)
  • Wiley Post poses in his high altitude pressure suit near his airplane "Winnie Mae" prior to takeoff in an effort to break the altitude record in New York, 1934. Post, who helped design the suit with B.F. Goodrich engineers, holds his helmet that will make it possible for him to breath at high altitude.  The record he wants to beat is 44,819 feet, set by the French pilot Lemoine.  (AP Photo)

Who discovered the planet Uranus in 1781? Don’t feel bad if the name William Herschel, a British musician and telescope builder, doesn’t come to mind in a snap.

Only those with out-of-this-world interests could possibly score well in answering the questions posed in The Smithsonian Book of Air & Space Trivia. And such buffs would probably chafe at the suggestion that this informative little book, edited by Amy Pastan, is filled with unimportant details.

These days the excitement once generated by astronauts and spaceships is easier to find in video games and in movies like Gravity than in headlines and TV news. Lest we forget, this book shows us how far we have come – and suggests how far we have yet to travel.

See how well you know some of the key names in aviation history (the answers are below):

1. What daring aviator flew solo around the world in the Winnie Mae?

2. Who was the first woman to fly solo and nonstop across the Atlantic?

3. What flamboyant pilot briefly flew with a pet lion?

4. Who was the first woman to fly solo around the world?

5. What was the name of the first chimp in space?

6. Which Hollywood film producer set a world speed record in 1935 and broke the record for flying a transcontinental route in 1937?

7. Who earned the nickname “Muttnik”?

8. Who was the first pilot to fly at twice the speed of sound?

9. Who was the first African-American woman to be a licensed pilot?

10. Who was the first person to dine in space as well as the first to photograph the Earth from space and was also the oldest space traveler?

The answers:

(1) Wiley Post made only 11 stops in his nearly eight-day trek in 1933.

(2) Amelia Earhart made her 15-hour flight in 1932, five years after Charles Lindbergh did it in twice the time.

(3) Roscoe Turner flew with a lion cub in 1930 while working for Gilmore Oil Co., which used a lion’s head for its trademark.

(4) Geraldine Mock piloted the Spirit of Columbus from Ohio’s capital on a 29-day flight in 1964.

(5) The trained chimp named Ham was place inside a Mercury spacecraft in 1961 to test whether humans could fully function in space.

(6) Howard Hughes not only set fight records, he also produced the 1930s movies Hell’s Angels and Scarface.

(7) A mixed-breed stray dog named Laika went into space in 1957 as the Soviets studied the effects of space flight on mammals. During the flight of Sputnik 2, “Muttnik” died from stress and an overheated cabin.

(8) Scott Crossfield, in 1953, beat the record of Mach 1 set six years earlier by Chuck Yeager.

(9) Bessie Coleman, a native of Texas, was licensed in France in 1921. She later performed stunt flying in the U.S. until she died in an accident in 1926.

(10) John Glenn was also the first American to orbit the Earth, in 1962. He returned to space at age 77 in 1998.

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