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Written by the National Model Aviation Museum staff
The exhibit is titled "Scene" at the Nats
History Preserved
As seen in the June 2019 issue of
Model Aviation.

PITH HELMETS CAN tell us a surprising amount of information about the history of aeromodeling.

Take, for example, two pith helmets. Both are from one of the Plymouth International Model Plane Contests, held in 1952, and sponsored annually by the Plymouth Motor Corporation.

Generally referred to as the Plymouth Internats, the contest, which had a limited international scope, was an invitation-only contest for young aeromodelers. Pilots earned their invitations by performing well in competitions sponsored by their local Plymouth dealerships.

The Plymouth Internats served as advertising and as a way to show that Plymouth Motor Corporation was investing in future technology and education. To make sure that the advertising was effective, contestants received free items including T-shirts, baseball caps, and pith helmets, which also helped identify contestants and officials.

One example is the pith helmet worn by Art Laneau. Art was the head of the Ambroid Company, which made modeling cement, as well as chairman of the Model Aeronautics Division of the Hobby Industry Association of America. He served as a liaison between the AMA and the U.S. Navy during the later years of the Navy Nats.

Art wanted to be seen—and seen he was in this colorful, glittery pith helmet. He enjoyed his headwear so much that he was known for decorating pith helmets for other Nats contest officials.

These pith helmets offered protection from the sun, but they were hot to wear. The sweat from a modeler’s brow can still be seen inside several of them.

See the pith helmets on exhibit in the National Model Aviation Museum’s gallery, along with some other typical contestant competition wear. The exhibit will run from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Can’t make it to the museum? Check out #SceneatNats on the museum’s social media!

the sparkly pith helmet

the sparkly pith helmet

the sparkly pith helmet

The sparkly pith helmet (top) was worn by Art Laneau. Red and yellow pith helmets (middle and bottom) were donated to the National Model Aviation Museum.

By the National Model Aviation Museum staff

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