Well, here it is!! Ta da!!
Just prior to Christmas is really a great time to visit the museum. Attendence is way down; but from 12/26 to 1/5 (except for 1/1) the place will be a mob scene.
Contrary to my last report the RAF Tornado GR 1 is not yet on display. A chuckle for everyone, the nose art on RAF combat airplanes seems to be a bit racy and one of the problems the museum had was selecting an airplane that is Desert Storm Veteran and has Politically Correct nose art. The airplane we got meets both criteria; the second, barely (oops should I use a word that has bare in it ).
Work is continuing in the Air Power Gallery. Most airplanes are in place, stantions installed, and the detailed exhibits are being built up. One of interest is the 40 and 8 rail car restored for the museum by the French National Railways in Dijon. It is a wonderful display. In the doorway are about 6 GI prisoners who are helping a new prisoner into the car with a German solder standing guard. The mannequins all have different features; often the museum will use the pictures of actual people to recreate the scene.
The B-25 is on the deck of the Hornet in preparation for the April, 1942 attack on Japan. Standing along side the airplane is Jimmy Doolittle talking to Marc Mitchner (the admiral in command of the task force). In the airplane's cockpit is a mechanic with his head out the window as if he is comunicating with someone. Behind the airplane are boxes of supplies and ammo waiting to be loaded. The airplane is tied down to the the deck and there is also a video explaining the raid with actual footage.
Our current director is big on getting people into the stories of the airplanes and more and more dioramas are being created around the airplanes. General Metcalf's unofficial motto for the museum is "The Keeper of the Stories" and I try to follow his lead by being able to relate some of them to visitors when I can.
I got to sneak into the new building (Kettering Gallery) and it looks as if the Modern Flight Hangar (MFH) would fit inside. The B-36 is still outside the end of MFH waiting to go inside the Kettering Gallery. This building will open about April 1, 2003.
Preparations are well under way for the rotating art exhibits that will on display throughout 2003 in the gallery that was used to contain the exhibit on the Korean War. The first artist to be displayed will be Keith Ferris, starting in January, 2003. There will be 60 of his paintings displayed. For those that are not familiar with Mr. Ferris' work; he paints a point in time as exactly as he can. The huge mural of the B-17, "Thunderbird" at the NASM is a good example of his work.
The south end of the MFH will be dedicated to the Korean War. Most of the airplanes are there (F-80, F-82, F-84E, F-86A, F-94A, Mig-15bis, T-6, H-5, C-124 for example). Work on the individual exhibits has yet to start.
The north end of the MFH will be dedicated to Vietnam. There is a mix of planes from that era and other aircraft that have yet to be relocated. Among those that have been moved are the XB-70, X-15, X-24B, and the X-29. The first 3 are in the Research and Development Hangar across the field adjacent to the Presidential Hangar. Visiting these hangars is restricted to 3-7 bus loads(depending on the day of the week in the winter) a day unless you have a DOT ID and vehicle pass and can drive over on your own.
The Kettering Gallery will be primarily dedicated to the Cold War with a section on Desert Storm. In it will be the B-36, a B-1B (arrived about 2 months ago), a B-2 (The Iron Bird or structural test speciman with a big crack in the right wing where it was tested to failure), and the RAF Tornado GR1.
In 2004, the Space Gallery and Education Center will be open and between it and the Kettering Gallery will be a circular building, housing ballistic missiles in a silo like setting.
We are expecting the delivery of a replica Martin MB-2 in January as part of the display dedicated to General Billy Mitchell. It will have to be reassemblied before it can be displayed.
That's it for now folks. If you have any questions, just ask away!! I'll be back at the museum on January 18th.