Planes, Planes, and More Planes!

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Today, my Dad and I drove over to Dulles and the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  I have never been to the Air and Space Museum on the Mall but my Dad says it is nothing compared to this museum.   The Center is a very large hangar on 3 levels with an amazing arrary of airplanes, helicopters, spacecraft and aeronautical machinery, electronics and paraphenalia.  It is truly amazing and if you love aviation and aerospace like I do – then this is a must see.

First we came in trough the main doors after having to pay to park.  There was lots of room in the morning since the kids are still in school in Virginia and Maryland.  Right away my Dad went to the ticket area and bought us tickets to see the IMAX production of “Fighter Pilot:Operation Red Flag”.  Since it wouldn’t start for 50 minutes we decided to see how much of the exhibits we could walk around and observe.  First up was the SR-71 Blackbird sitting on the hangar floor in all its black matte glory.  What a plane – my favorite, since it is used in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” as the character JetFire and was filmed at the center.

Then we walked straight ahead to the McDonnel Space Hangar and saw the amazing Space Shuttle “The Enterprise”.  Then we went over to the area that held the space science exhibit including The Advanced Orbiting Solar Laboratory as well as The Space Lab.  On the other side was Rockets and Missles including another ALCM Cruise Missle like the one we saw in Rome, NY at the Buffer display.

We decided to walk around the Vietnam and Cold War exhibit next to the SR-71 display.  There we saw famous and great jet fighters and bombers like the F-4S Phantom II, the A-6E Intruder and X-35B Joint Strike Fighter.  There was even a F-105D Thunderchief and a Sikorsky UH-34D Seahorse Helicopter from the Marines.  By this time it was movie time and we went up to the theatre.  The movie was great and showed the flying skills of our great U. S. Air Force fighter pilots in both the f-16 (bad guys in Red Flag) and the F-15 Strike Eagle (the goods guys) as well as the other ally Air Forces participating including Canada with the F-18A and the Germans with their Tornados and the Brits with their Harrier Jump Jets.  We had an AWAC controlling all the action, C-17’s demonstrating supply drops, tankers doing inflight refueling, B-2 and B-1 and F-117 stealth fighters demonstrating how to take out the radar and AAM defence systems.  They had a flight of A-10 Thunderbolts (my dad calls them Warthogs) showing what they can do to the enemies armor as well as a “downed pilot” SAR drill using the USAF PJ’s (Pararescue Jumpers) fast-roping down from Pavehawk UH60 choppers.  They are just like the Seahawk UH-60’s that fly by Hammock Dunes every day.

After the movie we went to the on-site Mickey D’s and had lunch.  After that we purchased simulator tickets and my Dad and I got to use a real flight simulator – I was the gunner and my Dad the pilot.  We had no kills because my Dad never lined it up quick enough on the target.  Next time I’ll have to fly and he’ll have to shoot.  Our last visit was over to the Business Aviation and Vertical flight exhibits where we saw the Concorde, this one from Air France.  It is my Mom’s favorite plane and she and my Dad once flew it round trip from London to New York but before I was born.

This is Frederick and I am still buzzing from such a great v isit to a great museum of great planes.

Next up, tomorrow we leave for Colonial Williamsburg.

See ya!

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