Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Miracle of Flight

Last weekend we crossed off another objective we've been meaning to accomplish. We went to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field, right next to Seattle's "Sea-Tac" International Airport. Every time we have passed it the comment is made, "We have to go and see that one of these days..."

Well, we still have to go back and see more of it because it is huge in space and massive in terms of the amount of information. And they are big enough now that they are offering a changing menu of other things to see and do, including an upcoming photographic exhibit called "Spirit of Flight," which I hope will be around for awhile. And sometime this fall they will show again the various styles of gear worn by airline attendants over the years.

We decided to go aboard the retired Air Force One Boeing aircraft (first picture) that flew President Kennedy to Dallas and to see the inside of a retired Concorde jetliner. (Jey-hu is standing - in the shade - next to the wheel of the Concorde, to give you some idea of how big it is.)

It was a late afternoon choice on a blisteringly hot day and by the time we arrived, it was already 3 p.m. Too late to start to see everything well... when you go, be advised there is enough to keep you busy all day. There is a small restaurant on site. It is wheelchair accessible, all except the outside aircraft displays.

So we saw the outside planes and zoomed through all the exhibits, barely taking time to stop and read about the people and places. There is a wonderful exhibit showing the beginnings of Boeing, another one about how rockets evolved, some very informative stuff about the space station including a mock-up of a portion of it, and perhaps the item I liked best was a "Land the Space Shuttle" game where you sat inside a little space with a joystick and a screen which simulated being able to see the field where you are landing. Oh, and there were plenty of gauges and instrumentation to see whether or not you were right side up or otherwise. (Not the frame shown below... that is in the early years exhibit.)
I could have sat at that all afternoon. Sadly there are only two of them and the little boys around me, standing in line for their turn, were fidgeting because "that Granny is taking too long, Daddy." Guess what? I got the shuttle to the landing strip the first time!! I didn't land it very well because I forgot the flare at 2000 feet, but at least I didn't destroy it completely in the desert like someone else I know, even after he tried it several times....

There are full-size models of the gossamer wings that got man started trying to imitate birds, smaller models of the planes that made history, but plenty of other full-size aircraft that boys and girls of all ages can sit inside to pretend they are flying or for grand-dads to show their grandchildren what they flew or what their fathers were flying in. Women in aviation were not in large numbers back in those days.... and still are limited today, but perhaps more because the little girls weren't drawn to flight the same way little boys were. Perhaps that is changing. In any event, there is a very large area for tots to play around and I peeked in, thinking about small ones I know. There was a very cute miniature Blue Angels jet in there and a little angel with corn rows was smiling from ear to ear looking up at her Daddy as she 'flew' around.

The displays are informative, all of the equipment inside is in great condition and there are planes from various countries as well, not all Boeing. Since I cannot post all the photos here, you can go and see a few more on this site: Flickr (click on the set "Museum of Flight") or click on the link for the museum above - or both.

Some years ago I took my son to Cape Kennedy (formerly Cape Canaveral) to see the Saturn V rocket - a real one - and all the Apollo Project history, including a real spacecraft module, and we went to the IMAX movie there which was impressive. This was all to share with him my experiences as being involved in that effort. The reason I mention it is because at this museum there is a substantial exhibit for this project, including a mock-up of the Lunar Excursion Module and other artifacts. More on that in another post. Hope I haven't worn you out!


  1. You have such adventures Sandy! Well done landing the Space Shuttle successfully. Seattle looks wonderful.

  2. Thanks, Lorna... hope you and Mike can come this way sometime to see it for yourself.

  3. You never wear me out Sandy, I love your wonderful travels, such interesting days out and really everything entered here. I was most interested in your comments about the Concord Jetliner as my Father was involved right at the beginning here at Heathrow and I remember taking my eldest boy for a 'look over' and a special sit in the cockpit, thrills for a little lad and now the same son travels often to Seattle for Microsoft (a small connection there ?) Thanks for these wonderfully interesting posts I do enjoy x

  4. Susie -- so happy to have such a loyal follower! Perhaps your son will bring his son or daughter to Seattle to have a Concorde tour... no cockpit sitting, sad to say... it's all sealed with Lexan so you can only look, not touch.