GM Aer-O-Dome
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The Aer-o-Dome Tent
One of the more spectacular new pieces of equipment for the 1941 Parade of Progress show was the new 1,500 person tent. The tent was radical and broke all the rules of traditional tent design. At first glance it looked like an inverted umbrella with ribs exposed. The frame was made of aluminum while the silver skin was plastic-impregnated to make it light-proof, water-proof and yet light in weight.

Entrance to the Aer-o-Dome Tent

    The tent was illuminated on the outside with colored flood lights and on the inside, it was lighted with multi-colored fluorescent tubes.
    Inside the tent, research lecturers gave a 40-minute demonstration. They described new developments in industrial research which contributed to national strength and which gave promise of future improvements of importance.
    To erect the tent, everything was bolted together except one end of each girt and its corresponding girder, forming the jointed tent ridge. This was a final manual operation after the remainder of the framework had been raised. More than 25,000 spot welds were required to make the frame. To raise the frame a truck is used to pull the cable, that raised the framework of the tent into position. Sections of the tent material are hand laced together. The tent fabric is snapped to wires which are run through pulleys in the rigging of the frame. The huge silver covering was then pulled into position.

AER-O-DOME ASSEMBLY

  • The men of the parade take the framework's sections from a specially built trailer. The frame consists of 56 pieces of metal plus 28 arched girders and 28 tubular connecting links. About 25,000 spot welds were required on the frame.

  • Next, the men lay most of the frame on the ground and bolt it together. A winch then hoists up the frame. At the top of the frame, at each end, is a semi-circular piece of metal called a "spider." When the main frame is up, a crewmember goes aloft and bolts the end girders into place on the spider's metal projections or "ears."

  • Other crewmen, meanwhile, have been lacing the skin's five large pieces together. (The skin's weight: 4,594 pounds; area: 3,445 square yards.)

  • Then, with snaps and pulleys, the skin is pulled into place. It slides evenly along in tracks on the underside of the girders. Finally, all vertical seams and horizontal bands are roped with some 2-1/2 miles of hemp line.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS

  • There are 10 ventilators in the top.

  • All the "running rigging" (attached to skin) and "standing rigging" (attached to frame) is roped with 9-16-inch linen line.

  • The stage in the Aer-O-Dome is part of a specially constructed 32-foot trailer. Sides of the trailer open hydraulically to form the stage overhead as well as the stage apron, complete with lights.

  • Stage curtains are operated electrically. similar controls work the 9 by 12 foot movie screen suspended behind the curtain truck.

  • A proscenium arch of brightly colored sheet aluminum panels, mounted on a framework of aluminum tubing, forms the stage masking.

  • The background of three-dimensional moving objects -- for an "atomic age effect" -- may be bathed in "black light" from a bank of overhead lamps.

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