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Archives at The Museum of Flight

John and Alan Blum Northwest Aviation Collection

Identifier: 2009-09-04
The John and Alan Blum Northwest Aviation Collection consists of visual and textual materials that highlight the personal lives of the Blum brothers and their work at Northwest Air Service, which John Blum founded in 1929. The collection consists of a photograph album and loose photographs, assorted ephemera, and a scrapbook related to the life and careers of the Blum brothers, dating to the 1920s-1940s.

At the beginning of the collection are five folders of assorted textual and ephemeral items relating to Alan Blum and Northwest Air Service, including pilot licenses, an issue of The Pennzoiler, and a log book. Please note that the materials in Folder 1 were found inside of the logbook. Additionally, there is a scrapbook comprised primarily of newspaper clippings, many regarding the Renton Airport and the Blums' work at Northwest Air Service. Other topics include aviation events, such as races and crashes. Additional materials include two issues ofTail Spins [a Pacific Northwest aviation newsletter] by Walt Bohrer, and event programs. There is also a clipping about the fatal crash of P. F. "Pop" Hotchkiss in 1938.

The bulk of the collection consists of approximately 800 black-and-white photographs, most of which are housed in the photograph album while the remaining images are loose. The photographs are a mix of personal and career-related, depicting vacations, people, aircraft, and aviation-related events. The photographs vary in size from 2x3" to 8x10" and are primarily casual snapshots and also include a small number of photographic holiday greeting cards. Album images are affixed to pages with very brief handwritten captions, which identify people (often by only first or last name), aircraft, dates, events, and locations. Some of the loose images include brief captions and/or stamps on the reverse of the image. Stamps include "Oliver R. Phillips" and "U.S. Army Air Service 91st Observation Squadron."

In general, the personal images in the collection show family and friends participating in a variety of leisure activities, such as camping, skiing, and flying. However, the majority of the images are aviation-related and include planes, events, locations, and people that the Blums were associated with. A small list of names includes Gene Meyring, Frances Winslow, Dorothy Hester Stenzel, William Boeing, and Wiley Post, among many others. There are also snapshots of the facilities where the Blums worked, including Renton Airport and Boeing Field. Additionally, an impressive array of aircraft are featured, many of which are at least partially identified. A very small sampling includes a Boeing Model 299, a Lockheed Vega, a Lockheed Electra, and others by aircraft manufacturers such as Sikorsky, Waco, Ford, Arrow, and Stinson.

Events featured include the 1930 Northwest Air Tour, the Seattle to Chicago Air Derby, and a 1937 "Trip Around Olympic Peninsula." Additionally, some pictures touch upon notable events in Pacific Northwest aviation history, such as the fatal flight of Wiley Post and Will Rogers, the crash landing of a Northwest Air Service plane on the roof of the Bon Marche department store building in Seattle, and activities at the then-newly founded Sand Point Naval Air Station, including a panoramic group portrait of U.S. Navy Air Squadrons based at the Sand Point Naval Air Station in 1929. On the front of the image, along the bottom of the image, are two captions, "[Asahel?] Curtiss 55391" and "VN Squadron R[D?] 13, Sand Point 1929."

Also depicted are scenic images of nature and outdoor activities in locations across the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s and 1930s, including various locales and cities in Alaska, Oregon, Washington (state, and Canada. There is also one aerial image accompanied by a clipping from an unidentified publication. The photograph features Mount Blum [formerly Bald Mountain] while the clipping discusses how the name was changed to honor John Blum and his forestry service work after his fatal aircraft crash.


  • 1921-1945


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


1 Cubic Feet (1 full-width letter size document box, 1 oversize box, and 1 oversize folder)


The John and Alan Blum Northwest Aviation Collection consists of visual and textual materials related to the lives and careers of John and Alan Blum. John founded the Northwest Air Service Company and Alan served as President after his brother died in a plane crash in 1931.

Historical Note: Northwest Air Service

Northwest Air Service was founded in 1929 by John R. Blum. His investors included:

  • William Strain (a Renton coal mining operator), Vice President
  • Melville Monheimer (an attorney in Seattle), Secretary
  • Elden Pollock, Treasurer and Technical Director
  • Robert E. Ellis, Asst. Secretary and Chief of Field Operations
  • Biographical Note: Alan L. Blum Alan L. Blum was born on April 2, 1907. He attended the University of Washington for two years but did not graduate. Blum served in the U.S. Army Air Corps and Army Air Force, including in the Strategic Air Command from 1941-1967. Blum ultimately retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.

    Before his Army career, Blum took over as President of Northwest Air Service Co. at the death of his brother, John. He served as President from 1931 to 1945, whereupon new ownership took over the company. Alan L. Blum died in Newport Beach, California in 1994.


    Biography derived from collection materials and donor information.
    Biographical Note: John R. Blum John R. Blum was born in 1905 in Valdez, Alaska and grew up in both Alaska and Seattle, Washington with his family, including his brother Alan, and sister Elizabeth. His father, Sam Blum, was a Seattleite who made and lost a fortune as a merchant and banker in Juneau, Cordova, Valdez, and Chitina, Alaska. Blum graduated from the University of Washington and was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honorary society. He also attended the Naval Reserve Training School and was an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

    Blum had a varied career in the aviation industry; he bought, sold, and maintained airplanes, flew air mail, and worked in fire reconnaissance. Blum founded Northwest Air Service Company in 1929, and served as President until his death in a plane accident in 1931.


    Biography derived from collection materials and donor information.


    No further accruals are expected.

    Related Archival Materials at Other Institutions

    The University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections Division, has a short film about the 1931 Northwest Air Tour, which includes images of John Blum, in their Moving Image Collection.

    Online at

    Processing Information

    The item in Folder 11 was removed from its original frame for preservation reasons. All of the paper items held within the frame were preserved and kept with the photograph to preserve context.


    Guide to the John and Alan Blum Northwest Aviation Collection
    Completed - Level 3
    L. Zaborowski, J. Parent
    Description rules
    Language of description
    Edition statement
    4th Edition

    Revision Statements

    • 2014, 2018: This finding aid has been revised to reflect updated DACS and Museum of Flight standards.
    • November 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.
    • September 2022: Updated collection title

    Repository Details

    Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

    9404 East Marginal Way South
    Seattle Washington 98108-4097

    The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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