Ian Logan’s Magnificent Machines
For a week at the end of July, Oshkosh, Wisconsin is the busiest airport in the world. Its annual air show, which runs from 26th July to 1st August this year, attracts aircraft fans from around the world to watch daily aerobatic displays by top teams including the US Air Force Special Operations Command.
The EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) launched its first air show nearly 70 years ago in Milwaukee, and since 1969 it has been based at Oshkosh, where the EAA AirVenture now draws more than 10,000 magnificent machines and 500,000 aviation enthusiasts each year.
It was here that the London designer Ian Logan bought his 1940 Cessna Airmaster 165 h. p. – one of five light aircraft he has owned – in 1990. ‘When I arrived, 15,000 planes had already landed, filling seven airfields,’ he recalls. After shipping the Cessna back to the UK in a 40-foot container, Ian flew down to the south of France to meet his wife. ‘The return flight was extraordinary. I remember it was very hot, and we were flying at 9,000 feet, up above the haze layer. The plane was going like a rocket, and when we were required to touch down at Le Touquet to go through customs, I had to fly all the way to Calais and back to lose height.’
From planes to trains
Oshkosh has a connection with Ian Logan’s other great passion, the magnificent machines of the American railroads. Located on the shore of Lake Winnebago some 60 miles north of Milwaukee, the town was for years the main supplier of railwaymen’s work clothes across the USA. It has since become famous for its Oshkosh B’gosh children’s wear.
When he isn’t flying his planes, Ian is immersed in his lifelong romance with American railroads, in particular the logos of the great rail companies at the height of their power. He has spent decades roaming rail yards, photographing the distinctive graphics painted on to locomotives, wagons and guard’s vans. His 35 mm transparencies, alongside his extensive collection of railroad memorabilia such as magazines, timetables, brochures, matchbooks, ashtrays, posters and postcards, now form a unique historical archive. This dazzling assembly of vintage Americana is shown off in his book Logomotive: Railroad Graphics and the American Dream, co-authored with the design commentator Jonathan Glancey and published by Sheldrake Press.
History behind the pictures
To this cornucopia of vintage railroad graphics, the distinguished design commentator Jonathan Glancey – another lifelong railway enthusiast – brings a well-informed, perceptive analysis of its iconography, of the way every aspect of the railroads, from the locomotives and rolling stock to architecture, advertisements and timetables, was designed to project an image of speed, efficiency, adventure and the American dream.
In his Foreword, the internationally known architect Norman Foster adds his own trumpet call, reminding us of the enduring inspiration provided by this ‘ultimate marriage of machinery, branding, graphics, colour and lifestyle’.