Last weekend, when the grand kids were visiting, we took them to the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. As explained on the center’s web site…
The center is “…the companion facility to the Museum on the National Mall. The building opened in December, 2003, and provides enough space for the Smithsonian to display the thousands of aviation and space artifacts that cannot be exhibited at the Museum in Washington, DC. The two sites together showcase the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world.
It’s a REALLY big place. The artifacts shown in the photos are not scale models, they are all the real deal.
It’s quite an impressive place.
Saying it’s “really big” is a bit of an understanding. It’s ginormous. Seriously.
I didn’t take notes, so I can’t tell you much about most of this stuff. Sorry.
They had aircraft of all shapes and sizes. From a very wide variety of eras.
There’s also a cool observation area that simulates an air traffic control tower. It overlooks Dulles Airport and on clear days during busy airport arrival and departure times (it was overcast and slow while we were there), you can see lots of planes. You can even listen in real-time as the tower talks to the pilots. My geekometer was spiking a bit there.
Supposedly, lines can get really long to get to the tower, so we went early. Timing wasn’t great, but it was still nice to see.
Brianna got a big kick out of the various illustrations on the aircraft. The boys, of course, were most impressed by the missiles and guns.
The next picture is my favorite shot from the museum. Because the lighting is right and it just shows the wide variety of stuff packed in there.
This next artifact is the crown jewel of the center. Both because of its significance and it’s size. Again, this is no scale model.
The lighting made it tough to get good pictures. But I did my best.
It was quite interesting to get that up-close-and-personal with the real space shuttle.
There were all sorts of displays there.
The specially-equipped airstream camper served as a mobile decontamination unit for astronauts returning from the moon.
I hadn’t realized the Enola Gay was there. So seeing that is what impressed me most that day. My grandmother knew the navigator who was on the flight that dropped the first atomic bomb, from the Enola Gay, onto Hiroshima, Japan.
The kids were really well-behaved. They held out until about 2:00 when we finally decided it was time for lunch. There’s a McDonald’s right in the center, which was convenient.
We only stuck around a little while longer after we ate. It became obvious that the kids were getting bored when we realized they were more enthralled with their Happy Meal toys than the airplanes and stuff.
So off we went to our next fun destination. I’ll have to tell you about that in my next post.
Is that a REALLY cool museum or what?