Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Air and Space Museum - Dulles Airport, Virginia

Today the boys went to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. There are two Air and Space Museums, but this was one next to Dulles International Airport. The girls had to stay home and relax today, which suited them just fine anyway!

The museum was the highlight of my trip so far. I saw all the planes and spacecraft that I had read about and saw in pictures my whole life. It even had a McDonald's inside of it (with free refills of Diet Coke). We even saw a real life astronaut! His name was Tom Jones (not the singer) and he was signing some books and I thought he was sticking around. There weren't that many people at the museum today so I probably would have had plenty of chances to talk with him but he had left by the time we got back his way. Oh well! Check out some photos from the trip (only a small sample as I took over 300 today)!

Here is the outside of the museum. You can see the "control tower" section in the middle.

Dad likes the "old-school" planes, but the boys thought the F-15 was pretty cool. They also had the first X-35 prototype which will probably be the plane that they will see flown when they are my age.

Charles Lindbergh's flight suit.

One of my favorite German planes from WWII. One of the only jet planes in the world at the time, and very advanced for its day.

A shot of one wing of the museum. Lots to look at. I could have stayed there for hours more and never got it all in!

Another wing...(pun intended).

Still another wing!

Finally a break for a quarter pounder meal!
A shot of my favorite civilian plane: the Piper Cub.

The actual Enola Gay, which dropped the first nuclear bomb on Japan.

Not the Starship Enterprise, but an Enterprise none the less! This is the first Space Shuttle, which never flew in space but they did fly it off the back of a special 747 and used it to test the glider and flight controls before they built the rest of the fleet.

This was in the "Space" wing of the museum. This is the model of the mother ship used in the filming of "Close Encounters". I had heard that they put some special "additions" to the outside of the hull. I found a few of them and show them on the next few photos.

I found an R2-D2!

Here is a miniature graveyard in the center of the photo. Click on the photo for a closeup.

Can you see the two WWII aircraft ready for take-off?

This is the actual trailer they put the crew of Apollo 11 in after splashdown, just in case they carried "moon fever" or some other biological contaminant after they stepped on the moon.
Here is a shot of a young aviator in the gift shop.

A view of a wing of the museum from the 7th floor observation tower.

The boys try and spot the rental car from the tower. Since it was next to the airport, you got to see jets come streaking by as they landed. They also had a speaker playing the control tower radio so you could hear the pilots of those same jets.

The best part of the day for the boys was playing with the "Mars Mud" silly goop that Cole bought at the gift shop, ALL THE WAY HOME.

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