Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, Jan 24 2004 - Day Trip to the New Air & Space Museum (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Brian Loughery, Colin Babb
Participants:Colin Babb, Brian Loughery, Amy Pickwick, Laura Hustead, Aaron Firoved, Kristen Buck, Young Kim, Matthew Sommer, Martin Acadieus, David Ni, Rebecca Frankenberger, KC Yi, David Hutchinson, Beth Wirick, Ted Wroblewski, Jeff Ledford, Jason Taylor, Emilio Ungerfeld, kris harris, Robin Bauer

Write Up:
It all began with a very cold morning (thankfully, though, no ice or snow) and a nice long wait at the Greenbelt Metro stop. For the 13 or so of us who carpooled, we stomped and shivered by Brian's car for while, hoping to entice any stragglers who might have needed some extra time to discover that we were the only group of people crazy enough to stand around looking silly in a largely empty Metro parking lot. Luckily, we did gather in a few stragglers, and headed off in the direction of Dulles Airport.

It took about 45 minutes to get there, and we met up with the 7 folks who had decided to travel to the museum on their own. The museum was bustling with people, but no so crowded as many people had told me it had been the previous month, since it opened on 15 December. Young, Kristen, Laura, and Aaron decided that it would be neat to see one of the IMAX movies, so we all got our tickets for the same show and then headed out to look at the planes in the hour or so we had before the movie started. Brian became the de facto tour guide as he took a large group around and added his expert knowledge to everyone's experience, while some headed up to the observation tower, and others decided to surreptitiously watch two movies instead of just one.

Even though there are 80 aircraft in the museum, the place is enormous and there was lots of extra room throughout the hangar. Eventually, there will be close to 200 aircraft in the museum, many of them hanging from the ceiling. The collection is divided roughly half and half between civilian and military planes. The most imposing ones are the Concorde and the space shuttle Enterprise, which was viewable but closed off to close inspection as she is being renovated. Parts of her wings were visibly missing, having been removed for part of the investigation into the Columbia disaster last year. There weren't many extensive text displays to read, so most of the museum is all about being in awe of the big planes (unfortunately, you can't go inside any of them...).

We all went and watched "Adreneline Rush," which was about base jumping and sky diving, with the usual IMAX mix of loud music and great perspectives on people doing dangerous things (some of us came out of the theater ready to jump out of airplanes...others were just as convinced that hell would freeze before they did something like that).

Afterwards, we all went and partook of the museum's "food court," which ended up being a Subway that served only premade box lunches. Our only choices were which lunch meat we wanted on our sandwich. Apparently, donations and tax dollars from American taxpayers were unable to provide the funds sufficient for the timely construction of a proper dining area.

A number of people went and made use of the ticket they bought for the flight simulator in the museum. It was widely agreed that the enormous wait time (40 minutes or so) probaly wasn't worth the six bucks we paid. About 15 people at a time were crammed into the simulator and we were taken on a mock ride to the International Space Station. We all agreed that it was really something more for the kids than adults (although one poor little fellow came out of the ride crying...so he's probably not going to be one of our nation's next astronauts).

After a three-hour visit, everyone had seen what there was to see, and had had a good time and gotten away a little more knowledge about lots of strange flying machines made of aluminum, wood, and plastic.

--Colin Babb



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