Tuesday, March 10, 2015

National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center, Air Wing

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum has a large exhibit hall in Chantilly, Virginia, near Dulles Airport. It's called the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. It has some very famous aircrafts and spacecrafts along with a plethora of other vehicles. The center includes an air traffic control tower (which we didn't visit) and an Imax screen (which we also didn't visit). The exhibit hall is amazingly huge.

Udvar-Hazy Center

Entrance hall

Upside-down flyer in the entrance hall

Exhibit hall

Military aircraft

The central exhibit is a Lockheed SR-7 Blackbird looking sleek and iconic. It's a stealth jet that was used to gather information in enemy territory where satellite coverage was poor. It's so sophisticated that it had a two man crew--one to pilot the jet and another to man the reconnaissance systems.

Stealth jet

Stealth cousins

The military vehicles include this Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopter (unofficially called a "Huey") used in the Vietnam War.

Vietnam-era helicopter

Nearby is the Vought-Sikorsky XR-4C helicopter, a prototype of the first mass-produced helicopter. R-4s were used in World War II, mostly in the Pacific theater, for liaison and rescue missions.

XR-4C Helicopter

A display shows the various jackets and other gear worn by airmen during World War II.

WWII gear

The German rocket fighter Messerschmitt Me 163 B-1 went into production late in the war (1944) and was used against American bombers but was not very successful.

Messerschmitt Me 163 B-1

The American Loon Missile is a copy of the German V-1 rocket (commonly known as "buzz bombs") design. The Loon was first tested in October of 1944 and consequently was never used in combat since it came too late. It did give airmen experience handling missiles, especially when the program was replaced by the Regulus missiles in 1950.

Loon Missile

The most famous World War II aircraft at the center is the Enola Gay. It is the bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in August 1945.

Enola Gay

On the civilian side of the hangar, aircraft run the gamut from 1800s to current day. The oldest style aircraft on display is a balloon basket!

Commercial aircraft

More aircraft

Still more aircraft

Aircraft from long ago!

From the 1920s is the Farman Sport, a French-made airplane. They were sold in America by the Ludington Exhibition Company. This plane is the last remaining Farman Sport.

Farman Sport

From the 1940s is the Beechcraft Model 35 Bonanza called Waikiki Beech. William Odom made a long-distance record for a non-stop flight from Honolulu, Hawaii, to Teterboro, New Jersey, on March 7 and 8, 1949, in this particular plane. 

Waikki Beech

From the 1990s is the Nemesis, one of the fastest planes in air racing history. Piloted by its designer Jon Sharp, it won 45 of 48 contests as well as numerous other awards.


They also have a Concorde, the supersonic French airliner that is no longer flying.


In the next post we'll visit the space wing of the center!

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