Whether you’re a long-time Airstream owner or just someone that loves the classic aluminum look, you should learn something with our Airstream Trivia post.
In the beginning
Wally Byam – The Founder of Airstream Trivia
Most Airstream enthusiasts know that the Airstream trailer company was founded in Culver City California by Wallace “Wally” Byam. But did you Wally Byam grew up on his uncle’s sheep farm and for part of the time, lived in a covered wagon?
Wally Byam was born on the 4th of July, 1896 in Baker City, Oregon.
Byam went to Stanford for college and then worked in marketing and publishing before he started Airstream.
Wally Byam was a camping enthusiast and his first car camper was a tent platform built on top of a Ford Model T frame. The tent structure didn’t hold up well, so Byam redesigned his camper with a more solid outer shell and a stove and ice chest inside and his first trailer was born!
Wally Byam published a “How to build your own travel trailer” plan in Popular Mechanics in 1931.
He sold the DIY travel trailer plans for $1 each and sold over 15,000 copies, which was enough to start Airstream
The first Airstream trailers in 1931 were made out of Masonite, not aluminum and did not have the iconic curved shape of the current Airstreams.
The first aluminum Airstream, the “Airstream Clipper,” didn’t go on the market until 1936.
Wally Byam and Airstream started a camping trailer boom in the United States. Within 5 years of starting Airstream in 1931, the number of U.S. camper trailer companies increased to over 400.
When World World II hit, every single camper trailer company shut down or went out of business, except for Airstream.
Airstream did stop making Airstream trailers out of aluminum during World War II due to rationing for the war effort.
Wally Byam and Airstream hosted a publicity event to demonstrate how Airstream trailers were very light and easy to tow. Byam had a French cyclist on his bike towing an Airstream around an airport runway.
Airstreams in Space Trivia
Airstream has been used by NASA to transport astronauts to the landing pad in the Airstream Astrovan since the 1960’s.
The Apollo 11 astronauts were quarantined in NASA’s Mobile Quarantine, which was a modified Airstream. The astronauts were quarantined for 88 hours from the time they splashed down in the Pacific Ocean and arrived on the aircraft carrier Hornet. The Hornet transported the astronauts inside the MQF to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The MQF was then loaded on a military transport plane and flown back to NASA Space Center in Texas.
The three astronauts were even visited by President Richard Nixon while they were enjoying the upgraded comforts from their Apollo capsule.
Airstream is currently working with Boeing and NASA on the Astrovan II as an upgrade to the retired Astrovan. The Astrovan II is a custom version of the Airstream Atlas Touring Coach and can hold up to eight astronauts in their flight suits.
Come back and check for more Airstream trivia as we add to the list of fun Airstream facts!