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Entries in National Air and Space Museum (20)



Silverplate, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

I have read that even with the accute raw material shortages and rationing that went on during WWII, anything needed for the Manhattan project was was delivered on a silver platter. It was understood that if the United States failed to create a working atomic bomb before the Germans or the Japanese we would likely lose the war. Within the Manhattan project, nothing was given a higher priority than the special modifications that were needed to be made to standard B-29 bombers which would enable them to drop atomic weapons. For that reason these modifications were code named "Silverplate". Pictured here and preserved for history is the Enola Gay which dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima Japan, the effects of which probably killed between 90,000 and 166,000 people while helping to end WWII and probably saving 1 million American lives.


Space Race

Space Race, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

In the 1960's and 70's the United States and the Soviet Union were trying their best to outdo one another with feats in outer space. This hall at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, features many artifacts from this time period.


Super Cruising at the Udvar Hazy Center

The Mach 2 Air France Concorde takes center stage at the Udvar Hazy Center in Washington DC.


Starship Enterprise.... Kinda

The Space Shuttle Enterprise in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Smithsonian's Udvar Hazy Center Museum. Wow that was a mouthful. It's really quite amazing to walk into this hanger and see a space shuttle parked right in front of you. Even if that shuttle has never been in space. This was a test vehicle and was flown off the back of a specially modified 747. Astronaut and Enterprise test pilot John Young once mentioned that the Enterprise had the gliding characteristics of a brick. More Udvar Hazy Center images here.


The Flyer, Spirit and Columbia

In 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright flipped a coin to decide who would attempt the first controlled, powered flight in a heavier-than-air aircraft which they themselves had designed. Orville, a 32 year old bicycle mechanic won the coin toss.

24 years after their success, Charles Lindbergh flew alone from New York to Paris in the high wing monoplane the "Spirit of St. Louis”. You can see it hanging from the ceiling in this image on the left side. 150,000 cheering Parisians greeted him when he landed at Le Bourget. He was 25 years old.

42 years later he personally witnessed the launch of the giant Apollo 11 moon rocket topped by the Command Module "Columbia" which you can see in the foreground. The Columbia carried Michael Collins, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin and Neil Armstrong to the Moon. And it was there on July 20, 1969 during the final moments before the landing when Neil had to take manual control of the Lunar Module "Eagle" because their targeting computer was guiding them to a landing spot covered with car size boulders. He successfully landed the Eagle with six seconds of fuel remaining. He was 39 years old.

Over 66 years these men in their twenties and thirties made world history as did everyone who supported their endeavors. Not just for the United States but for all mankind. It's just amazing to me that at one time all three historic flying machines resided in the Milestones of Flight Gallery at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. and anyone could just walk in and see them all at once.

When I am lucky enough to visit and I see kids and even adults just pass through this gallery and not really give any of the exhibits here a second glance, I wonder if they have any idea how historic these artifacts are and how they changed our world so profoundly.

This image is fairly unique. You might notice there are no people in it. This is very rare since the National Air and Space is the most visited museum in the world. Manny and I had just seen a few IMAX movies in the museum. We figured that by the time the last film had concluded, the museum would be closed. We planned to linger behind for a few minutes to let the crowd exit the building so I could get this and a few other shots before the security guards kicked us out (which they politely did).

(Note: The Wright Brother's 1903 flyer is now located in its own gallery and is displayed at floor level so guests can get a better look at it.)


Personal Spacecraft

Personal Spacecraft, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

It's really a miracle that men and women work outside of the international space station, often for hours without the benefit of a tether. The spacesuits they wear are in fact personal spacecraft providing everything they need to survive in the harsh reality that is space. These suits maintain a constant 72 degrees farenheit when the environmental temperature is +250 in the sun and -250 in the shade. Extraordinary engineering.


Fishbed and the Phantom

Fishbed and the Phantom, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

The Russian MiG-21 "Fishbed" Fighter/Interceptor in the foreground led an interesting life and must have made quite a journey. "Acquired" by the CIA at the height of the cold war, it was transported to a secret airfield run by the U.S. Navy. There it was test flown by American pilots to discover its secrets and weaknesses. Later as part of a highly classified project called "Have Donut", it along with other Russian aircraft participated in mock air combat to train American Naval aviators how to defeat this aircraft in the skies over North Vietnam. The aircraft you see behind the silver MiG is the American F-4 Phantom II.


Fly me to the moon

Fly me to the moon, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

This is an actual lunar module which was built to fly in space during project Apollo. Its mission was to separate from the command module, fly about a hundred miles away and then link up with it again. This is the second of two test Lunar Modules built. It was never used because the first test item worked perfectly during the Apollo 9 mission.


Oxcart Decendant

Oxcart Decendant, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

The Mach 3+ SR-71 Blackbird greets guests to the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum at Dulles International Airport, Chantilly Virginia. This 10 shot HDR sequence was taken using my Gorillapod Focus camera support system. Udvar Hazy does not allow tripods but the guards seemed unsure what to say about my articulated wonder.


Vietnam Era Aircraft

Vietnam Era Aircraft, originally uploaded by big_pixel_pusher.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Udvar Hazy Center in Chantilly Virginia has multi-level walkways from which you can view the various aircraft that are on the hanger floor or suspended at various levels from the ceiling. I was able to wrap my gorilla pod to the hand rail of these walkways to steady my camera. This allowed me to take my typical 10 shot HDR's and avoid the security guards who zealously enforce the "no tripods allowed" rule.