A Smashing Breakthrough
Some years ago I had the pleasure of joining a tour of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum's restoration facility in Silver Hill, Maryland. There, I encountered a fascinating collection of aircraft and pieces of aircraft. At each stop the docent conducting the tour provided interesting, sometimes colorful anecdotes. Near a TBF Avenger, he explained that the manufacturer's intent was to produce a truly sturdy, survivable plane. As he put it, "First Grumman built a mockup out of concrete, and then they made the real plane even heavier."
When we got to a B-17 bomber from World War II, he explained that it had been dubbed the "Swoose" because it had been repaired by grafting on other planes' parts. Its nickname came from a popular song about an imaginary bird, half swan, half goose. An Army Air Forces pilot who flew the plane was Captain Frank Kurtz, the father of actress Swoosie Kurtz. Our puckish guide told us: "Many airplanes have been named for women. She is the only woman named for an airplane."