Richard has written in with a question about the photograph (to the right) that's being sold as a print by The New York Times
. It shows the sky above Portland, Oregon filled with biplanes. It was taken in 1920 by the photographer C.S. Woodruff. Richard questions whether the picture can possibly be real, and I think he's right to do so. First of all, the biplanes seem dangerously close to each other, all clustered together in a swarm. Second, by 1920 there were hundreds of biplanes and trained pilots in the U.S. But what would they have been doing all gathered together in Portland? Could one city have produced that many pilots and planes in 1920? Probably not. Finally, if you look at a larger version of the picture
, it's pretty obvious that it's the same biplane pasted into the photo numerous times. In other words, this is a tall-tale photo. Such photos were all the rage in the early twentieth century
. A sky filled with planes must have seemed like a fairly farfetched concept to people in 1920.