'THE AIRPLANE AS ART' a group of 302 photographs, including 94 Portraits of Seminal Figures in 20th-Century Aviation History,including Renowned Aviators, Designers, Engineers, Test Pilots, Inventors, Military Heroes, Cosmonauts, and Many Others, 75 SIGNED BY THE SITTER in ink on the image and of these, 61 also SIGNED BY THE SITTER in pencil on the reverse; and 208 Studies of Airplanes, Airplanes in Flight, Airplane Manufacturing, Airplane Graveyards, Views from the Air, and More; all 302 Portraits and Studies signed, dated, annotated, and numbered by the photographer in pencil and with his copyright stamp on the reverse, 1986-97 (one photograph taken in 2000). Folio, in 3 matching clamshell portfolio boxes, the Portraits Signed by the Sitter no. 3 in an edition of 10, the Other Portraits and Studies no. 3 in an edition of 20, plus an edition of 3 artist's proofs (3) Most approximately 13 by 13 in. 33 by 33 cm. This remarkable project to document the 20th-century airplane and its creators began with Bob Seidemann's interest in abandoned hulks of airplanes in the California desert. Photographs of these abandoned flying machines led to photographs of aircraft in flight; and ultimately to portraits of aviation designers and pilots. What began as a casual project turned into an obsession, as Seidemann tracked down and persuaded the giants of aviation to pose for his camera, from World War II hero General James A. Doolittle to Douglas Dauntless dive-bomber designer Ed Heinemann; from General Chuck Yeager, the first man to break the sound barrier, to Sabura Sakai, the Japanese World War II ace; from Joseph ''Joe'' Sutter, father of the 747, to the three great Russian aircraft designers of World War II, Radyi Papcovsky, Valery A. Borough, and Victor N. Semenov. Seventy-five of these portraits have been signed by the sitter at least once, and most twice. As whole generations of these pioneers pass on, the original signed portraits will become impossible to duplicate. Bob Seidemann has written, ''The concept for this work sprang from the notion that the airplane is a quintessential manifestation of our humanness, tool- making. They are an ancient primal dream made real, to fly. The essence of the original desire to fly was, I believe, aesthetic. All subsequent uses of flying machines are by-products. I look upon the machines themselves as objects of art, a result of the creative process. ''This is not meant as dogma. It is simply one photographer's expression, a point of departure for a wonderful odyssey.'' A complete list of the portraits in this lot is available upon request. The photographer Bob Seidemann is perhaps best known for his photograph of a naked girl with a model airplane, titled by Seidemann Blind Faith, and used by Eric Clapton on the cover of his 1969 eponymous album.