Aeroseums Blog

Aviation history, one article at a time.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Update)

 

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Located near Dulles International Airport, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center opened its doors in Dec 2003. Due to the size of the Center the Smithsonian was finally able to exhibit a majority of its large aircraft collection that it simply could not display at the main museum on the National Mall. The over 50,000 square foot primary hanger is show center for the airplane and helicopter collection with the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar holding the space collection, highlighted by currently the Space Shuttle Enterprise, but soon to be replaced by the Discovery. The stellar aircraft collection includes a Lockheed SR-71, Concord, Boeing’s 367-80 and 307 Stratoliner, B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, Northrop N-1M, and many other rare aircraft.  Additionally the Museum has an observation deck that looks like an aircraft control tower providing a view of Dulles as well as an IMAX theater.  The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center truly lives up to its nickname of America’s Hangar.

Ok, we have one major problem. The Udvar-Hazy Center is my favorite museum and I could easily pick dozens of airplanes, but like all of our reviews on Aeroseums we have to pick 3 so here are three aircraft that you just have to see if you only have a short time to be at the museum and my Personal Gem, ok 2 Personal Gems this time.

Exhibit 1: SR-71 Blackbird

SR-71 BlackbirdGreeting you upon your entrance to the museum is the sleek Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. This record setting Blackbird set the Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. speed record flying 2,124MPH and clocking a time of 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds between the two cities. Developed by a team of engineers at Lockheed’s Skunk Works, lead by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, with its first flight in December 22, 1964, the SR-71 was a follow on to the CIA’s A-12. There are a total of twenty remaining SR-71 Blackbirds. Other records achieved by the SR-71: “absolute altitude record” of 85,069 feet, New York to London 1,435.587MPH (need to slow down to refuel) in 1 hour 54 minutes and 56.4 seconds, a flight of 15,000 miles in 10 hrs. 30 min., St. Louis, Missouri to Cincinnati, Ohio 311.4 miles in 8 minutes 32 seconds, and more can be found here.

The positioning of the SR-71 Blackbird in the Udvar-Hazy Center is stunning: not only is it one of the first airplanes you see when you walk in as you look from nose to tail you then see the Space Shuttle Enterprise (soon the be Discovery) between the SR-71’s twin tails.

Note: The SR-71 has long been my favorite airplane ever since I laid eyes on one at the EAA Fly-in (AirVenture) in 1989

Exhibit 2: B-29 Superfortress

B-29 Enola GayOne of the most controversial, but historical, aircraft in their collection: the Boeing B-29 Superfortresses, known by its name “Enola Gay”, dropped the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The B-29 was first flown September 21, 1942 and entered service in May of 1943. Enola Gay was produced late in the war on May 18, 1945. The Superfortresses was the largest Allied bomber to fly in World War Two and introduced new technologies like pressurization, remote controlled weapon stations and electronic fire control systems.

Exhibit 3: Discovery OV-103

Space Shuttle DiscoverySpace Shuttle Discovery replaced the Space Shuttle Enterprise on April 19th 2012. Discovery first took flight took place August 30, 1984 on STS-41-D. Since then Discovery flew a total of 39 times spending one year (365 days) in space, the most of any shuttle. Space Shuttle Discovery also led the return to space missions after both the Space Shuttle Challenger and Space Shuttle Columbia accidents. The Hubble Space Telescope was also launched and serviced, and then Discovery became first shuttle to dock with the International Space Station.

Personal Gem: N-1M Flying Wing

 N-1M Flying WingI have always held a place in my heart for flying wings. I am not sure what it is but the N-1M just calls out to me. The N-1M was one of John “Jack” Northrop’s early flying wings. It was a one of a kind proof of concept that later lead to the N-9M and then later the YB-35.

Personal Gem 2: 307 Stratoliner

307 StratolinerThe Boeing 307 Stratoliner was the first pressurized commercial transport and built in 1938 it was well ahead of its time. It was originally ordered by PanAm and then TWA, but World War Two intervened and with modification the design became the C-75. This airframe was restored and on March 28, 2002 it had an emergency ditching in Elliott Bay near Seattle, Washington due to running out of fuel. It was restored again and flew via EAA AirVenture (where I took this photo) to the Smithsonian where it is today.

 

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

14390 Air & Space Museum Parkway

Phone: 703-572-4118

10:00 am – 5:30 pm Daily

http://www.nasm.si.edu/museum/udvarhazy/

https://www.facebook.com/udvarhazycenter

https://twitter.com/airandspace

Note: Photo Gallery is in original post.

Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center

CosmosphereThe Cosmosphere is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and has three primary missions:

  • Museum
  • Education & Camps
  • Restoration & Replication

During this blog post we will be covering only the Museum portion of their mission.

Located in Hutchinson, Kansas, the Cosmosphere is a shining star of what you can find in small town America. Outside the Cosmosphere is their rocket garden containing a Titan II rocket used in the Gemini program and a Mercury-Redstone rocket. Greeting you as you walk in is an SR-71, full-scale mock-up of Space Shuttle Endeavour, and T-38 Talon. On the first floor of the museum are a digital 4K dome theater, education and training rooms, the gift shop, and the concession stand. Read More…

Welcome Discovery NASA Social

This was the second NASA Social, previously NASA Tweetup, that Aeroseums has attended. It occurred April 19th 2012 in Washington, DC. NASA has stepped up in the last few years their outreach to encourage those interested in all aspects of NASA’s mission to come to events and learn more. For this privilege participants are encouraged to simply communicate their experience on the social networks they use anyway.  NASA originally called them NASA Tweetups. They have recently renamed them to NASA Social due to the use of other social media networks such as Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, etc. Read More…

Spytacular Tweetup at the Cosmosphere

Spytacular BadgeFirst for those of you who don’t know what is a Tweetup, it is an event organized by people with a like interest or organizations in order to share a common experience and communicate that experience to others. The name comes from the use of the social network Twitter. One of the largest aerospace users of Tweetups has been NASA Originally called a NASA Tweetup they have recently renamed them to NASA Social due to the use of other social media networks such as Face Book, Google+, Pinterest, etc.

The main draw for this tweet up was the gathering of SR-71 Blackbird crew at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center where the crews gave talks and hung out under the SR-71 answering questions from the public. Read More…

NAS Wildwood—or a Museum with 4,440 Windows

Located at the Cape May County Airport in South Jersey is home to a growing, thriving aviation museum, the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum.

In 1943, the U.S. Navy leased an airfield built in 1939 from Cape May County.  The 900+ acres that had three runways was called NAS Rio Grande.  NAS Rio Grande was activated on 1 April 1943.  Due to the inability to get telegrams and mail, based on confusion with the more famous Texas town with the same name, two months later the base was recommissioned as Naval Air Station Wildwood.  By the end of 1943, the base had completed the main facility, Hangar No. 1.  From 1943-45, the base acted as a training facility for Helldivers and Avengers. Squadrons of these aircraft would hone their dive & torpedo bombing in the nearby Delaware Bay before they deployed overseas. Read More…

Fantasy of Flight

Fantasy of FlightLocated in Polk City, FL between Lakeland and Kissimmee, Fantasy of Flight is more than an aviation museum calling itself an “Aviation Attraction.” One of the first things that makes it stand out is how the facility is arranged. When you enter the museum you feel as if you are walking though the history of aviation. The first few exhibits are arranged as a walk-through diorama starting with the birth of aviation and ending with a US Army Air Corp base where you can walk through a B-17. Upon exiting the B-17 diorama you enter the main hangar holding nearly 40 vintage aircraft with a centerpiece of a rear Short Sunderland flying boat. Read More…

Harold F. Pitcairn Wings of Freedom Museum

Harold Pitcairn and Amelia Earhart. When you mention these names, and museums, you think of the National Air and Space Museum.  However, there is a museum that also celebrates these Aviation greats and other heroes.  Located on PA State Route 611, otherwise known as Easton Road, is the Harold F. Pitcairn Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum.   The Wings of Freedom Museum is run by the DVHAA, the Delaware Valley Historical Aircraft Association.

The DVHAA grew out of the Willow Grove Historical Aircraft Association. In 1972, the association decided they needed to work on restoring a collection of Aircraft that were rusting away in a small viewing area on the 611 highway.  The collection of Aircraft had their beginnings when Lt. Commander David Ascher rescued Axis and Allied aircraft from being scrapped.   Ascher was a man ahead of his time.  While most of those Aircraft are no longer part of the Museum, that doesn’t detract from what is currently there. Read More…

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Located near Dulles International Airport, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center opened its doors in Dec 2003. Due to the size of the Center the Smithsonian was finally able to exhibit a majority of its large aircraft collection that it simply could not display at the main museum on the National Mall. The over 50,000 square foot primary hanger is show center for the airplane and helicopter collection with the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar holding the space collection, highlighted by currently the Space Shuttle Enterprise, but soon to be replaced by the Discovery. The stellar aircraft collection includes a Lockheed SR-71, Concord, Boeing’s 367-80 and 307 Stratoliner, B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, Northrop N-1M, and many other rare aircraft.  Additionally the Museum has an observation deck that looks like an aircraft control tower providing a view of Dulles as well as an IMAX theater.  The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center truly lives up to its nickname of America’s Hangar. Read More…

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (on the Mall)

Ad Astra ("to the stars") Lippold sculptureLocated on the National Mall in Washington DC between the Hirshhorn Museum and American Indian Museum, the Air and Space Museum is the nation’s most visited museum and second in the world only to Paris’ Louvre Museum. Nearly every major historic aircraft or spacecraft in US history is located behind its stone and glass walls. These include the Wright Flyer, the Bell X-1, Mercury “Friendship 7″, Apollo 11 Command Module “Columbia”, Ryan NYP “Spirit of St. Louis”, SpaceShipOne, Douglas DC-3, Hughes H-1, Voyager, V-2 rocket, Messerschmitt Me 262A, and dozens more aircraft, spacecraft, and artifacts. Despite the typical crowds, this is one museum you should plan the time to see properly (at least a day), but if you only have limited time below are a few key spots to visit. Read More…

Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry

Located directly off Lake Michigan and surrounded by Jackson Park, the Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science center in the Western Hemisphere. While their exhibits range from a coal mine, storms, green energy, to U-505 a German U-Boat, we will be concentrating on the aviation and space exhibits. Read More…