More about the Banning Collection Mission:
By Dr. Eric Hobson, Ph.D.
With this article, we pick up where the Spring 2021 "Clipper" article left off.
Eric Hobson continues his review, sorting, and mission of discovery with Capt. Banning’s Collection:
It wasn’t just Covid-induced cabin fever that got me to volunteer last December for the mission to secure Capt. Gene Banning’s collection. It was a mix of scholarly excitement, responsibility to history, and not a little romantic adventure mixed in.
Still, I jumped to help ensure that Captain Banning's decades-long research was preserved, and that future scholars didn't have to wait too long to access this trove. My goal is to provide other researchers a detailed map to this one-of-a-kind collection, so they don't have to dig blindly while hoping to strike gold (an all-too-common experience in accessing archival materials).
Capt. Banning’s Boxes: A historical treasure. Photo by Eric Hobson
My Nashville-Miami-Nashville odyssey has already paid back ten-fold. While sifting through the materials in the 29 boxes that filled the back of the "Ebony Clipper," (my rented mini-van) I've learned that the collection holds more than we believed going in. The collection isn't based on one PAA Captain's collection, but two! Close friends, Captain Gene Banning and Captain George Price, represent the bulk of this collection, augmented by other PAA captains whose papers/memorabilia both men preserved.
Caption: Gene Banning at work, somewhere in postwar Europe, circa late 1940s. (Photo: PAHF Collection)
I'm humbled as I contact family members of PAA personnel to offer to return non-PAA materials; hopefully, these PAA pioneer families can fill gaps in their family tapestry.
The sorting, culling, indexing process for the Banning Collection will take months. That said, selfishly, I wish I had years of hands-on time, because the material is so rich and varied. There are so many stories that I wish I could claim for myself. Yet, the sooner this treasure is made available to the world, the better.
I’m honored to curate the Banning Collection...for as long as needed. For now the work continues.
A treasure unearthed: Manufacturer’s data plate from NC823M, most famously known as the Pan American Clipper during the survey flights Across the Pacific. (Image: PAHF Collection)
View some rare scenes of the Pan American Clipper, the aircraft from which this artifact was salvaged.
LINK to Film Vault movie