Monday, July 20, 2009

My World Tuesday

These photos were taken at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

The first Space Shuttle orbiter, Enterprise is the centerpiece of the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the museum, and is a full scale test vehicle used for flights in the atmosphere and tests on the ground. It is not equipped for space flights, it has no propulsion systems and only simulated thermal tiles, so it was only used for tests in 1977.

On this day in history (July 20th) in 1969
U.S. Apollo 11 Astronauts
Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin
land on the moon, where Armstrong
becomes the first person to step on the Moon's surface.
You can learn more about the Apollo program here.

Below is a replica of the Apollo 11 command module with the real Apollo 11 Flotation Collar attached.

On July 24 1969, at the end of its historic Moon landing mission, the Apollo 11 command module splashed down in the Pacific. Navy swimmers from a recovery helicopter jumped into the water, near the command module, to stabilize it. They attached and inflated around it this custom made flotation collar.

I went to the Air and Space Museum twice in the last month, once when my niece and her young man were visiting, and last week when I found out that a friend of mine had never had the chance to go there. We met up for coffee and drove right on over. Gregg and I also visited a couple of years ago with our son, my father-in-law and one of our nephew's. It's only 15 to 20 minutes up the road so we can basically go any time we want to, and whenever visitors arrive we always suggest putting it on the list of places to see.

The second satellite in the above photo is called a Tracking and Data Relay Satellite from 1983. I couldn't find out about the other one as I didn't make a note of it on my visit.

I found this display of astronaut spacesuits very interesting and was immediately attracted to what I thought was a child's. It is actually a Mercury Doll and a small version of a Mercury Spacesuit. This is one of perhaps a dozen made by the B. F. Goodrich Corporation in the early 1960's. According to what I read on the card by its side, they were given to VIP's for goodwill and publicity purposes. It looks almost identical to the suits worn by the Mercury astronauts. The helmet and boots are much simplified versions of the full-sized equipment.

This is the SR-71 Blackbird which remained the world's fastest and highest-flying operational manned aircraft throughout its career. From an altitude of 24 km, it could survey 260,000 km2 per hour (72 square kilometers per second) of the Earth's surface. In addition, it was accurate enough to take a picture of a car's license plate from this altitude. On 28 July 1976, an SR-71 broke the world record for its class: An absolute speed record of 1905,81 knots (3529,56 km/h), and an absolute altitude record 25929 m. Several aircrafts have exceeded this altitude in zoom climbs but not in sustained flight.

The Blackbird on display at the museum in Virginia was in active service in the US Air Force for 24 years. On its last flight, 6 March 1990, it set a speed record by flying from Los Angeles to Washington DC in 1 hour, 4 minutes and 20 seconds, averaging 3418 km/h! At the flight's conclusion, it landed at Dulles International Airport and was handed over to the Smithsonian.

What I love about this museum is the wonderful hangar all these planes are housed in.

There is an Air France Concorde on display which you can actually walk right next to.

Below is one of my favorite planes, the Boeing 307 Pan American Clipper "Flying Cloud".

Boeing 307 Stratoliner Clipper Flying Cloud. This is the information I got about it online. If I have anything incorrect in any way, please let me know as I truly want to have the correct facts.

First Flown in late 1938, the Boeing 307 was the first airliner with a pressurized fuselage. It could carry 33 passengers in great comfort and cruise at 6,096 meters (20,000 feet), while maintaining a cabin pressure of 2.438 meters (8,000 ft). This enabled the Stratoliner to fly above most bad weather, thereby providing a faster and smoother ride.

The Stratoliner incorporated the wings, tail, and engines of the Boeing B-17C bomber. The wide fuselage was fitted with sleeper births and reclining seats. Ten Stratoliners were built. The prototype was lost in an accident, but five were delivered to TWA and three were purchased by Pan American airways. TWA owner Howard Hughes purchased a heavily modified version for his personal use. The airplane displayed here was flown by Pan American as the Clipper Flying Cloud. Boeing restored it in 2001.

32.7 m (107 ft 3 in)

22.7 m (74 ft 4 in)

6.3 m (20 ft 9 in)

Weight, empty:
13,749 kg (30,310 lb)

Weight, gross::
19,051 kg (42,000 lb)

Top speed:
396 km/h (246 mph)

4 Wright GR-1820 Cyclones, 900 hp

Boeing Aircraft Co., Seattle, Wash., 1940

And now what do we have here? I had to take this photo for my son. There is an IMAX Theatre at the Centre and they are showing the new Transformer movie. Transformers have been around since son Brad was a little guy.

When Gregg's ship put out to sea for six months Brad and I went over to England to visit my Mom and Dad. We planned our visit so that they could help celebrate Brad's birthday, and my sister and her husband (this was long before my niece was born) as well as aunts and uncles were invited to a lovely birthday party. Brad had been a big Transformer fan for quite a while and this newsflash had gotten around. He was also at that time the only grandchild. I think everyone bought him a Transformer, some small and some pretty big. He had a wonderful birthday and played with his new toys for the rest of the holiday. They went everywhere with us, even to bed!
At the end of the holiday Mom and Dad packed all his Transformers into one of their duffel bags and we used it as a carry-on as that boy was so in love with those things that the thought of them traveling in the cargo hold was not even an issue and we never gave it a second thought, until we got to Customs. A very nice Customs lady unzipped the bag and lo and behold there were all those little robots in all kinds of disarray, legs sticking up here, legs sticking out there. She smiled sweetly and said someone had been a very lucky boy. I told her it had been a special birthday this year with our family and she smiled again and said to Brad, "How about showing me how to put all these together okay?" Brad was overjoyed. For the next 20 minutes he went through every one as she watched very closely and checked each out as he placed them on the table in front of her. She was a very clever lady and a kind one at that. She did her job without so much as a stern look in Brad's direction and he had so much fun, he thought it was play time before we boarded our flight.

And I am very glad we didn't have to put these big guys together. I got pretty good with those Transformers but I think I would throw up my hands at the ones in front of the IMAX theatre . In fact, I think I may go see the new movie tomorrow just for old time's sake.

I got this aerial photo off the web.

Thank you Klaus, Sandy, Ivar, Wren, Fishing Guy and Louise for hosting My World. You can see other ‘My World’ photos or join in and share your own by clicking right here.


  1. Thanks for the fabulous tour! Fantastic shots and really great informative post! Enjoyed it! Would like to see it myself!

  2. Wonderful post Denise - I really enjoyed reading it. I'll always remember the first walk on the moon - exciting times! And what a beautiful hangar with all the wonderful aircraft. I too would love to visit it someday! A x

  3. Back again - really enjoyed the story about Brad and his birthday transformers too - as you say a very clever lady at the airport! A x

  4. You have some pretty impressive shots here. You put a lot of work into this. Very nice. Cute story about your son too-- especially now that he is an old married man. ;) Wonderful post Denise.

  5. A funny tale about transformers - what a sensible and lovely customs woman. Perhaps you could 'borrow' the big transformer for your son's next birthday? ;)

  6. What a timely my world post. Fascinating compelling reading.Marvellous exhibition and wonderful you are allowed to photograph it. We just couldn't in the UK.

  7. Wonderful tour. I love *Air and Space* museums and the perfect post to celebrate Apollo 11.

  8. Wow. What an awesome place to visit. Mr. Hip would love it.

  9. Now that's a really great museum - what fun it must be to visit. The Stratoliner is fabulous. Thanks for all the info and the great photos.

  10. A very topical post and how lucky for you to have such a museum so close in your world. Thanks for the informative tour.

  11. Really interesting post, Denise, with superb photos as ever.
    What an amazing place. The RAF Museum at Hendon is good but comes nowhere close to this. I can imagine visiting again and again and each time finding some new snippet of information.
    Loved the piece about Brad and the Transformers.

  12. Great tour. The air and space museum is on my bucket list.

  13. Denise,
    What an interesting place. I love the souvenir space suit! The view of the planes suspended in the hangar was delightful, too. Breathtaking post!

  14. Very interesting Denise! I get giddy about the altitude's space speed. My imagination swirls like a top. Beautiful photographs. What a privilege to get there and see things up close and personal.

  15. Thank you for such an interesting tour and wonderful photos. I would love to visit there sometime.
    Sunny :)

  16. Fantastic series of images, I loved this post of yours for sheer variety quotient and the images very nice as well.

  17. Great tour through the museum. I've been re-reading The Right Stuff, so aircraft and space exploration has been on my mind. I remember listening to the moon landing on television when I was a teenager. It was an amazing time in history.

  18. Wow Denise... You got some great photos. I'd love to see that museum. There are so many interesting things in there. I worked for 12 yrs. in Houston near NASA--and have been in their museum down there. I hope that our Govt. will keep funding NASA--but I have my doubts. It's just SO interesting.


  19. wow very great photos here..I wish to visit this place in the future...thanks for sharing Denise...simply amazing!

  20. It's all so very interesting & fantastic photos, too! Thanks for the tour!

  21. Wow, what an excellent post. Thanks for all of the pictures and descriptions.

  22. These are wonderful photos and a fine commentary. Well done. I've also been scrolling down you page and enjoying your photography.

  23. very informative and appropriate as it was the 40th anniversary this week.


  24. What a thorough, informative post. If this doesn't make people want to visit,then nothing would! It seems like EVERYTHING there is just too cool!

  25. Tremendous post with great photos.