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Aerokit: The Johnson & Johnson Innovation That Aided Early Aviators

In honor of National Aviation History Month, we're looking at the launch of the Aerokit, a first aid kit for pioneering pilots.
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The first solo transatlantic flight from New York to Paris in May 1927 inspired a new, pioneering era of aviation. That same year, Johnson & Johnson launched its Aerokit first aid pack to help those early aviators care for the nicks, scrapes and other injuries that came from flying and maintaining their rudimentary airplanes.

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An early ad for the Aerokit

Image courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Archives

Among the first to use the unique kit was Robert Wood Johnson II—later known as General Robert Wood Johnson—the son of the company founder, says Margaret Gurowitz Circular image Margaret Gurowitz,Chief Historian, Johnson & Johnson, Johnson & Johnson's in-house historian. An enthusiastic aviator who even owned an autogyro—the predecessor of the modern helicopter—Johnson outfitted his biplane with the Aerokit.

The Aerokit’s contents were packed into a metal box that fit inside a canvas pouch. Pilots could then attach the pouch to their belts to keep it handy, Gurowitz explains.

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Contents of a 1927 Aerokit

Image courtesy of Johnson & Johnson Archives

As aviation practices evolved, so did the contents of the kit. Company archives show that the 1934 version included the following:

· Adhesive tape
· Aromatic spirits of ammonia, which was a stimulant when inhaled
· Gauze bandages
· Bandage compresses
· BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages
· A triangular bandage that could be used as a tourniquet or sling
· Burn emollient
· Absorbent cotton
· Mercurochrome, a topical antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes
· Scissors
· Tourniquet
· Safety pins
· Miniature first aid chart

The Aerokit, produced until 1942, was one of a wide variety of niche emergency kits made by Johnson & Johnson over the years, following the debut of its first commercial first aid kit in 1888.

Other unique kits made by the company have included the Autokit for early automobile operators and even a Snake Bite Kit, released in the 1960s.

Johnson & Johnson has a virtual museum where you can learn more fun facts about its rich history.
© Albert Vecerka/Esto. All rights reserved.

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