Six fun facts about Airstream trailers

557fab5622774a6450d8f2a16b4c492bAirstream’s distinctive aluminum trailers look like they’re creatures from another planet sometimes but millions of Americans love the comfort and, yes, beauty of these mobile icons of road travel culture. Here are six interesting facts about Airstream trailers through the years that you might find interesting.

Design Origin The unique silver shape is a company trademark. William Hawley Bowlus was the genius behind the design. He was inspired by design work he did for Charles Lindburgh and his Spirit of St. Louis plane as well as other aircraft to create the distinctive silver trailer now known as Airstream. It originally was named the Bowlus Road Chief. Bowles went belly-up but his design became the template for early Airstream models that actually were wood trimmed, not covered with shiny silver aluminum.

Backs of magazines featured plans The Airstream originally was conceived as a do-it-yourself- project, kind of like people make ultralight planes from plans and kits. A bit too much for 99.9 percent of people who just want the thing to do its thing, nevertheless the oldest existing example of an Airstream trailer still in captivity indeed was built from scratch and from magazine plans.

Amazingly Lightweight Don’t try this at home but in the 1940s, publicity photos from Airstream showed a trailer being pulled by a bicyclist. That’s light. Nearly colored like an “airstream” In the 1950s, Airstream came close to going space age wild. They commissioned a study to see how the trailer would do if it were covered by the same pastel designs then-popular with motorists. How did the study go? Well, the Airstream continues to be shiny silver to this day, so do the math.

Approved by NASA The Astrovan was what NASA called its Airstream model that was home away from home for astronauts before blasting into space. Apollo 11 astronauts coming back from the moon were placed in quarantine in the Airstream just in case “moon germs” were a problem. President Nixon talked to the Apollo 11 astronauts while they were sequestered in the Airstream.

Military Requisitioned Air Force officers use a series of Airstream trailers to accommodate VIPs. The “Silver Bullet” program involves Air Force technicians from the Air Force Research Laboratories to turn the Airstreams into mobile communication centers.

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