Today was day one of ‘Tour Seattle’ and it included a visit to the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. I’ll admit this was not on my bucket list, and even after going there it didn’t get added. The quality of the museum is fantastic, but it’s just not my thing. I think my friend enjoyed it more than me. With that said, there were some moments that made the trip worthwhile even for me.
We lucked out on timing and walked directly into a video presentation on Mars rovers. It was a great summary of
the two rovers that have already been to Mars and the third one that left in 2011 and will arrive this year. The rovers are technological masterpieces. Seriously. I never want my blog posts to be spoilers, so I won’t get into a lot of detail regarding the video presentation. Just go see it. The first exhibit we visited was about space travel. I think the most fascinating…and, maybe the most disturbing…was the exhibit about animals in space. I might be the only person who didn’t know this, but they actually sent a dog into space. She had enough room to lie down and stand up and the capsule was padded, unfortunately she was not only the first animal in space she was also the first animal to die in space. There was a lot of rumors about her death, but it wasn’t until 2002 that her death was made public. Check out Wikipedia if you are curious about Laika. The first chimpanzee in space, Ham, was laid to rest at the International Space Hall of Fame…yea!…so glad he got that level of respect (Ham did not die because his participation in the space program). These are the animals that paved the way for human exploration. Another fascinating document in the space section of the museum
was a memo written by President Kennedy to Vice President Johnson. It was a litany of questions regardingthe space program. It included questions about whether we were going to beat the Russians, if there was anyone else in the running, and what needed to be done to ensure we made it first. Wow! My comment to my friend was ‘sounds just like the questions I get asked at work all the time’…I’m a project manager by trade. We also saw a lunar rover (not sure if it ever made it into space or if it was just a replica/training vehicle).
I can’t remember all the planes we saw, but there were a few that stood out to me…
First, and my favorite, was Airforce 1. It was the actual Airforce 1 used by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. Let’s just say I’m sure the current Airforce 1 has a much plusher interior. I felt like I was experiencing history first hand…with all my senses…I told my friend as we entered ‘it smells like the 70s in here’ and wouldn’t you know this plane served as Airforce 1 from 1959 to 1972. There was a state-of-the-art manual typewriter onboard. And, President
Eisenhower had a doggie door installed into his quarters. Why was this my favorite…really, how many people can say they were on a plane where Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon once sat…ok, I’m sure thousands or millions since it’s retirement, but let me have my moment.
The next plane that stood out to me was the British Airways Concorde. I guess I was impressed (or not impressed…read on) because it’s a Concorde. It’s fast. The surprising part was, holy cow, it was narrow. I took a picture of my friend. He’s 6’4” and could barely stand up in the middle, but that wasn’t the worse part…he had to walk through sideways. I barely made it through walking straight forward. I expected it to be luxurious, but I guess if you can get from Europe to the US in four house maybe you don’t need the luxury.
We visited the WW1 and WW2 exhibits as well. The planes were amazing and impressive and beautiful. My favorite part was watching a short video with a couple of WW2 WASP pilots. I guess most people know, but just in case…WASP was a group of women pilots. They were not allowed to fly in combat, but they did ferry the planes from manufacturing to where they were needed. These women were kind of funny. I recommend finding this very small part of the WW2 exhibit. It’s worth a couple of minutes.
I learned some new things today and enjoyed the space exhibit/movie, Airforce 1, Concorde, and the WASP pilots. But, and this is a pretty big but, I don’t think I need to go back*. Although I’m sure my Dad would enjoy it, so maybe I’ll take him.
*Just to be clear my statement about not wanting to go back has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the Museum of Flight. I actually think it’s very nicely put together. I knew going into it that I probably wasn’t going to LOVE it. Honestly, we were supposed to go to the Woodland Park Zoo today, but we got rained, winded, snowed, and hailed out. This was a great compromise.
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