Last week I had the opportunity to go with a group to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. This is quite a mouthful to say, but I guess when you give the Smithsonian 65 million dollars, they don’t care how hard your name is to pronounce. Anyone who has ever visited Washington DC knows about the Air and Space Museum. It’s the most popular museum on the Mall and has the original Wright Flyer, The Spirit of St. Louis and a lot of other rare planes and space craft. What they don’t know is that the Smithsonian owns tons of stuff it can’t display. A lot of it stays hidden in warehouses in suburban Maryland.
The Udvar-Hazy Center is right next to Dulles Airport in Virginia and puts on display a lot of the airplanes that aren’t historic enough or just plain (no pun intended) too big for the main museum. A few years ago, the NASM put the original Enola Gay on display in the museum on the mall, but only the fuselage fit. In the new place, the whole thing, fully restored, fits with room to spare.
The other signature military plane in the exhibit is the SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest plane ever built. These things never fail to impress.
The last Concorde to ever fly is also on display. It also is in the “How did they fit that thing in here?” category. It is nearly impossible to get an angle to take a picture of the whole thing at once.
I was most impressed with the wide variety of WWII planes they have. A lot of planes are hung from the ceiling and there are catwalks around and through the hangar that let you get a closer view. Here is a Flying Tigers P-40 flying right at the camera.
Many years ago I had a job that occasionally took me to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, so I have been up-close to Space Shuttles before, but the Enterprise on display here is still an impressive sight. That’s me in the foreground.
When I got home and went through the photos, I counted 69 pictures after I deleted the duplicates and out-of-focus shots, which sounds like a lot, but I only scratched the surface. If you want to see more check out this Flickr set for the full set of my pictures. Or view them all as a slide show.
And if you get to the DC area take a half day and head out to the Udvar-Hazy Center. Like all Smithsonian museums it’s “free”, but parking is $12 a vehicle or you can pay for a shuttle from the Mall. And just go plane nuts.
Technorati tag:hummingbird rump, Udvar-Hazy, Air and Space Museum, plane, shuttle, Concorde