Trip to the National Air and Space Museum
One of the outings I’ve definitely been looking forward to while in the Washington, DC area was a visit to the National Air and Space museum.
Here you can find really amazing artifacts like an SR-71 Blackbird spy plane and the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird”
Two words: Super. Cool. : )
The SR-71 began operation in January 1966 and was retired from military use in 1998.
This jet was designed to replace the U-2 spy plane. The CIA wanted a jet that could perform as well as the U-2 but evade any enemy attack.
The SR-71 didn’t have any counter-measures of its own so if an enemy missile were fired at the SR-71, the pilot would just accelerate.
Space Shuttle Discovery
The kids didn’t grow up watching Shuttle launches on TV, so they didn’t consider seeing one in person to be special. They were mostly interested in the many simulators they could “fly”.
Most people know the underside of the shuttle is covered in heat resistant tiles. What’s pretty cool is that each one is individually numbered and occupies a specific place.
Check out the markings. I’m assuming this happened during re-entry. Its awesome the museum and NASA left these as is.
They could have spent the money to replace all of the tiles, but seeing the actual wear and tear of a flight is pretty neat.
I was pretty surprised to see the Canadarm on display next to the shuttle. I shouldn’t have been since it’s been a huge part of the shuttle program since the beginning.
Also cool was the model for the alien ship from the movie “Close Encounter of the Third Kind“. Check to the close-up. The designer also worked on Star Wars and intentionally put a miniature model or R2-D2 on it.
Got a really good look at the Concord, the world’s first supersonic commercial jetliner.
The Concord could fly from New York to Paris in about 3 1/2 hours. It had a top speed of just over Mach 2 but was only allowed to hit that once over water because of the sonic boom.
Near the end of its life, a one-way ticket on the Concord was about $7,000.
The Concord is so long, it was hard to photograph, but Abby was always happy to oblige. : )
This was the first aircraft to use a new “spot-welding” technique. It allowed for improved aerodynamics because very few rivets would stick out of the body like in previous airplanes.
Check out the tail hook at the back. The nose of the plane was so long that, when landing on a carrier, pilots had to put the engine in a stall condition which dipped the nose downward.
If the tail hook didn’t grab the wire, the planes would usually ram into other planes sitting on the deck of the aircraft carrier.
Just under 12,000 Kittyhawk’s were built until the end of WWII.
This plane had 6 machine guns in the wings and could carry a total of 2000 lbs. of bombs.
This particular plane was at Pearl Harbor in 1941. It’s in really poor condition because it was left in the elements for years.
“Enola Gay” Boeing B-29 Superfortress
The Enola Gay was the bomber which dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.