1997 32c Classic American Aircraft: Vega

# 3142d - 1997 32c Classic American Aircraft: Vega

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US #3142d
1997 Vega – Classic American Aircraft

  • Honors the Vega aircraft on semi-jumbo stamp
  • The back of the stamp includes information about the aircraft pictured in the design
  • Part of the Classic American Aircraft set, the 5th set in the Classic Collections stamp series


Stamp Category: 
Commemorative
Series:  Classic Collections
Value:  32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:  July 19, 1997
First Day City:  Dayton, Ohio
Quantity Issued:  161,000,000
Printed by:  Printed for Stamp Venturers at J.W. Fergusson and Sons, Richmond, Virginia
Printing Method:  Photogravure
Format:  Panes of 20 (Horizontal, 4 across, 5 down)
Perforations:  10.2 (APS Rotary Perforator)
Tagging:  Large tagging block over all 20 stamps.  The tagging block extends only to the outer edge of the vignette of the 16 stamps bordering the pane.

Why the stamp was issued:  To celebrate the iconic and important Vega aircraft.

About the stamp design:  Like the others in the set, this stamp pictures artwork (oil painting on Masonite) by William S. Phillips of Ashland, Oregon.  Phillips made every design unique, so no two aircraft appear in the exact same position or in front of the same background .  This was done to prevent the stamps from looking too similar and stagnant.  Phillips used many reference books, photographs, and even model planes he built himself and had his wife hold at different angles to ensure his paintings were as accurate as possible.

USPS special consultant Walter Boyne (retired US Ari Force colonel and first director of the National Air and Space Museum, founder of Air and Space magazine, and more) was chosen to develop a list of aircraft models to choose from.  This is the list of criteria Boyne used to make his decisions:

“1)  Importance to aviation history.  Not all aircraft are equally important to aviation history, but all are of some enduring importance.

2)  Contribution to technology.  In a similar way, not all the selections contributed equally to technology, but most of them made significant contributions.  In some cases, the contributions represented a first…. In other instances, the contribution was a combination of technological advances […] rather than a breakthrough in one particular area.

3)  Public perception.  In some instances, an aircraft, over time, by reasons of its performance, its appearance, or some other factor, would come to be recognized as the most memorable aircraft in its class.

4)  Aesthetic appeal.  Not all the aircraft selected could be called beautiful… Yet all have a tangible aesthetic appeal, and some are simply quite beautiful as sculptural art, at rest or in flight.  A case could be made for some aircraft that they are so unaesthetic in appearance as to have a crude beauty…

5)  A standard of excellence.  Some of the aircraft were so dominant in their field that even if they lacked some of the above criteria – which they do not! – they would still have had to be selected.

6)  A distinctive, evocative appearance.  While this might be considered a subset of aesthetic appeal, it is different in that some aircraft simply call forth the era in which they appeared because of their distinctive appearance.

There are hundreds of other worthy contenders, and strong arguments might be made for them using the above criteria,” Boyne said, “But the selected aircraft have, on balance a unique combination of these qualities that make them truly, Classic American Aircraft.”

Special design details:  Phillips’s airplane paintings (generally oil on Masonite) are highly detailed and have been featured in many art books and limited-edition prints.  Phillips was also an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War and traveled to the Persian Gulf as a Navy combat artist in 1988 to paint US aircraft and ships. 

Art director Phil Jordan said “I wanted someone who flew, and Bill, like myself, is a recreational pilot… He has an ability to paint aircraft so they look as if they actually are in the air.  They have a wonderful feeling to them.  A lot of aviation artists are able to paint every rivet, every blade of grass, every desert grain of sand, but when you add it all up it’s very static and hard-edged.  Bill’s work is very fluid and loose.”

First Day City:  The Classic American Aircraft stamps were dedicated at a ceremony at the US Air and Trade Show at Dayton International Airport.  Dayton was home to the Wright brothers, the men who flew the first heavier-than-air craft in 1903.

About the Classic Collections Series:  The Classic Collections series began in 1994 with the Legends of the West issue.  The idea originated from Carl Burcham, manager of stamp and product marketing for USPS at the time.  Each Classic Collections set consists of a pane of 20 different semi-jumbo stamps with descriptive selvage at the top (header) and informational text on the back of each stamp beneath the gum.  The stamps are “broadly defined, Americana-themed subjects.”

The first four Classic Collections sets were accompanied by matching sets of picture postal cards showcasing the stamp designs.  However, none were created for the Classic American Aircraft set.

History the stamp represents:  For a few years after World War I, aircraft designers concentrated on developing military aircraft.  After Congress withdrew funding, they turned their energies to designing aircraft for civilian use.

During the 1920s, aviation was the new frontier and each year, Americans and Europeans tested their ideas in national and international races.  Seeing what worked, they went home and tried again.

Lockheed incorporated two German designs in its six-passenger Vega – Hugo Junkers’ cantilever wing and Rohrbach’s “stressed-skin” construction.  Entering the 1928 National Air Races’ transcontinental derby, the Vega flew coast to coast in 24 hours and 9 minutes, winning hands down.  The record was bettered again and again, making the Vega the finest transport monoplane of the time.  In 1929, Amelia Earhart and her Vega competed in the first women’s transcontinental races, coming in third behind two other Vegas.

“Stressed-skin” construction is like a lobster claw in that the shell and wings bear the weight rather than an internal skeleton.  This structure not only reduced drag and weight, it also increased cabin space by 35%.  The Vega was so successful that it inspired worldwide development and influenced the design of larger transport aircraft.

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US #3142d
1997 Vega – Classic American Aircraft

  • Honors the Vega aircraft on semi-jumbo stamp
  • The back of the stamp includes information about the aircraft pictured in the design
  • Part of the Classic American Aircraft set, the 5th set in the Classic Collections stamp series


Stamp Category: 
Commemorative
Series:  Classic Collections
Value:  32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:  July 19, 1997
First Day City:  Dayton, Ohio
Quantity Issued:  161,000,000
Printed by:  Printed for Stamp Venturers at J.W. Fergusson and Sons, Richmond, Virginia
Printing Method:  Photogravure
Format:  Panes of 20 (Horizontal, 4 across, 5 down)
Perforations:  10.2 (APS Rotary Perforator)
Tagging:  Large tagging block over all 20 stamps.  The tagging block extends only to the outer edge of the vignette of the 16 stamps bordering the pane.

Why the stamp was issued:  To celebrate the iconic and important Vega aircraft.

About the stamp design:  Like the others in the set, this stamp pictures artwork (oil painting on Masonite) by William S. Phillips of Ashland, Oregon.  Phillips made every design unique, so no two aircraft appear in the exact same position or in front of the same background .  This was done to prevent the stamps from looking too similar and stagnant.  Phillips used many reference books, photographs, and even model planes he built himself and had his wife hold at different angles to ensure his paintings were as accurate as possible.

USPS special consultant Walter Boyne (retired US Ari Force colonel and first director of the National Air and Space Museum, founder of Air and Space magazine, and more) was chosen to develop a list of aircraft models to choose from.  This is the list of criteria Boyne used to make his decisions:

“1)  Importance to aviation history.  Not all aircraft are equally important to aviation history, but all are of some enduring importance.

2)  Contribution to technology.  In a similar way, not all the selections contributed equally to technology, but most of them made significant contributions.  In some cases, the contributions represented a first…. In other instances, the contribution was a combination of technological advances […] rather than a breakthrough in one particular area.

3)  Public perception.  In some instances, an aircraft, over time, by reasons of its performance, its appearance, or some other factor, would come to be recognized as the most memorable aircraft in its class.

4)  Aesthetic appeal.  Not all the aircraft selected could be called beautiful… Yet all have a tangible aesthetic appeal, and some are simply quite beautiful as sculptural art, at rest or in flight.  A case could be made for some aircraft that they are so unaesthetic in appearance as to have a crude beauty…

5)  A standard of excellence.  Some of the aircraft were so dominant in their field that even if they lacked some of the above criteria – which they do not! – they would still have had to be selected.

6)  A distinctive, evocative appearance.  While this might be considered a subset of aesthetic appeal, it is different in that some aircraft simply call forth the era in which they appeared because of their distinctive appearance.

There are hundreds of other worthy contenders, and strong arguments might be made for them using the above criteria,” Boyne said, “But the selected aircraft have, on balance a unique combination of these qualities that make them truly, Classic American Aircraft.”

Special design details:  Phillips’s airplane paintings (generally oil on Masonite) are highly detailed and have been featured in many art books and limited-edition prints.  Phillips was also an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War and traveled to the Persian Gulf as a Navy combat artist in 1988 to paint US aircraft and ships. 

Art director Phil Jordan said “I wanted someone who flew, and Bill, like myself, is a recreational pilot… He has an ability to paint aircraft so they look as if they actually are in the air.  They have a wonderful feeling to them.  A lot of aviation artists are able to paint every rivet, every blade of grass, every desert grain of sand, but when you add it all up it’s very static and hard-edged.  Bill’s work is very fluid and loose.”

First Day City:  The Classic American Aircraft stamps were dedicated at a ceremony at the US Air and Trade Show at Dayton International Airport.  Dayton was home to the Wright brothers, the men who flew the first heavier-than-air craft in 1903.

About the Classic Collections Series:  The Classic Collections series began in 1994 with the Legends of the West issue.  The idea originated from Carl Burcham, manager of stamp and product marketing for USPS at the time.  Each Classic Collections set consists of a pane of 20 different semi-jumbo stamps with descriptive selvage at the top (header) and informational text on the back of each stamp beneath the gum.  The stamps are “broadly defined, Americana-themed subjects.”

The first four Classic Collections sets were accompanied by matching sets of picture postal cards showcasing the stamp designs.  However, none were created for the Classic American Aircraft set.

History the stamp represents:  For a few years after World War I, aircraft designers concentrated on developing military aircraft.  After Congress withdrew funding, they turned their energies to designing aircraft for civilian use.

During the 1920s, aviation was the new frontier and each year, Americans and Europeans tested their ideas in national and international races.  Seeing what worked, they went home and tried again.

Lockheed incorporated two German designs in its six-passenger Vega – Hugo Junkers’ cantilever wing and Rohrbach’s “stressed-skin” construction.  Entering the 1928 National Air Races’ transcontinental derby, the Vega flew coast to coast in 24 hours and 9 minutes, winning hands down.  The record was bettered again and again, making the Vega the finest transport monoplane of the time.  In 1929, Amelia Earhart and her Vega competed in the first women’s transcontinental races, coming in third behind two other Vegas.

“Stressed-skin” construction is like a lobster claw in that the shell and wings bear the weight rather than an internal skeleton.  This structure not only reduced drag and weight, it also increased cabin space by 35%.  The Vega was so successful that it inspired worldwide development and influenced the design of larger transport aircraft.