In 1999, Nova Hall discovered a locked steamer trunk in his family’s garage in Sedona, Arizona. The trunk was over 100 years old and had the initials of his grandfather, Donald A. Hall, Sr., Chief Engineer of the Spirit of St. Louis, stenciled on the side. Nova had been told about his grandfather’s role in the historic flight as a child, but he assumed that he was one of many engineers. This was reinforced through the many visits he took to the San Diego Air and Space Museum with the YMCA and his father. At the time, Donald A. Hall Sr. was barely mentioned in the displays and information about the flight.
This all changed in 1998, when Nova and his father were visited by Ryan and Spirit of St. Louis historian Ev Cassagneres. Mr. Cassagneres was attempting to finish his book, The Untold Story of the Spirit of St. Louis, when he opened Nova’s eyes to the role his grandfather had played in the design of the plane. It was then that he said, “There may be a book in this, about your grandfather, if you’re interested.”
A year later, Nova was deciding what to keep and what to give away in the family garage when, after moving a few boxes, he found the hidden treasure. There, protected from the elements, was the old World War I Rose trunk. Nova’s grandfather’s initials were stenciled on the side. It was this discovery and its contents that would allow history to be changed.
The trunk was filled with a treasure trove of aviation history. There were photographs, letters, and documents that had never been seen before. These materials provided a unique and valuable glimpse into the construction and design of the Spirit of St. Louis. They also shed new light on the role that Donald A. Hall, Sr., played in the historic flight.
The discovery of the Rose Chest was a major breakthrough for aviation historians. It helped to fill in the gaps in our knowledge about the Spirit of St. Louis and its creation. It also helped to ensure that Donald A. Hall, Sr., would finally receive the recognition he deserved for his contributions to aviation history.
The Rose Chest is now on display at the Flying Over Time: The Spirit of St. Louis Exhibition. It is a must-see for anyone interested in aviation history, art, or STEM education. The combination of historical narrative, art, and aviation science makes the exhibition a truly unique and educational experience. Whether you are a child or an adult, you are sure to learn something new from this fascinating exhibition.
Visit the exhibition’s website to learn more and plan your visit today!