Archive for 2014-09-14

A Day at Udvar-Hazy   1 comment

The Nation Air and Space Museum on the Mall, as I noted, is a bit landlocked, and too small for many aircraft in the Smithsonian’s collection. To accommodate the larger vehicles in their collection, the Udvar-Hazy center opened in 2003 as an expansion to the center. There collection has expanded into this new space. I got to spend a brief time there once on a business trip; on our family vacation, I got to explore the space more fully.

Perhaps my favorite vesical is an SR-71 Blackbird. It also happens to be my second favorite vehicle made of titanium.
Blackbird (3/4 from the Right)

I’ve loved the Blackbird family since I was a kid. I always appreciate the opportunity to see one, especially a record-setter.
SR-71 (Nose)

SR-71 (Rear-Right)

When I was last here, they Space Shuttle Enterprise was the centerpiece of their collection. Since the retirement of the Shuttle fleet, it has been unfortunately moved to New York. The Enterpirse was used for the Approach and Landing Tests. It never went to space. In its place, the Space Shuttle Discovery was rolled in.
Discovery Nose

The Discovery has is the oldest of the remaining Space Shuttles, and the one with the most missions. It first flew in space in 1984, and completed the last of its thirty-nine missions in 2012.
Over the Wing

I just walked around this vehicle several times, staring at it. I imagined myself at its controls so many times in my life.
Discovery Engines

I was sad to think the Shuttles are no longer flying, with nothing to replace them.
Entering the Space Gallery

The Space Gallery had a number of other artifacts, including another film Nikon body modified as an early digital camera.
Early Nikon Digital Camera

An early plan for the Gemini program was for the capsule to return not by splashing into the ocean (as it did), but under a paraglider.
Gemini Paraglider Test Vehicle with Rogallo Paraglider

A testbed capsule was towed behind a car, much like a kite.
Gemini Paraglider Test Vehicle

A mock-up of the Pathfinder lander was there, along with the Sojourner, one of the first robotic rovers on Mars.

Several warplanes were in the main aircraft gallery. An F4U was hung dramatically by the entrance.

The P-40 was famous for the American Volunteer Group, the “Flying Tigers.”
P-40 Flying Tiger

The P-38 Lightening was designed by Kelly Johnson, who also designed some significant aircraft, including my beloved Blackbird.
P-38 Lightening

The P-61 Black Widow was a World War Two era night fighter. My grandfather worked on the early RADAR carried in this craft.

A B-29, the Enola Gay, loomed large over the World War Two exhibit.
B-29 Nose

One of the first Soviet jet fighters was the MiG-15.

It was no match for the F-86 Saber, which ruled the skies during the Korean War.

The F-4 and MiG-21 were adversaries in the Vietnam War.
MiG-21 and F-4

F-4 and SA-2

The A-6 Intruder served from the Vietnam to the First Gulf War.
A-6 Top View

The iconic UH-1 “Huey” represented rotary-wing aircraft of the Vietnam War.

The collection’s F-14 was involved in combat in the 1989 Gulf of Sidra incident, shooting down a MiG-23.
F-14 MiG Killer

I found the collection of prototypes fascinating. The X-35 developed concepts that became the F-35 Lightening II. It is the first aircraft to take off and land vertically and break the sound barrier.

The XV-15 developed tilt-rotor aircraft to the point it could become a viable platform.
XV-15 (Top View)

The Northrop N9MB demonstrated “flying wings.”
Northrop N9MB

The 707 was the first US jetliner. It’s prototype is at Udvar-Hazy.
707 Prototype

The supersonic Concord jetliner was there.

I had never seen one before. It is a gorgeous aircraft!
Concord (Nose)

This Dassault Falcon 20 was FedEx’s first aircraft.
Dassault Falcon 20

The Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer set the record for fastest unrefuled circumnavigation of the planet.
Global Flyer

We spent hours admiring this collection–perhaps second only to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in terms of size, but with much more significant aircraft.

Posted 2014-09-14 by Mr. Guilt in 2014 Summer Vacation, Aircraft

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