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My Visit To The New Smithsnin Air/Space Mus. @ IAD

Tue Jan 06, 2004 8:31 am

What a great New Year's week I had! My boyfriend treated me to a visit to Washington, DC and the brand-spanking new Udvar-Hazy Center @ Dulles Airport. This is the new "addition" to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington proper. When complete, the U-HC will feature more than 200 "real" aircraft.

We drove to DC (from ATL) so I don't have an airline report for you, but I can tell you that the museum is pretty cool. A few notes:

* We arrived around lunchtime on Friday (Jan 2) and encounted a HUGE line of cars a the exit ramp off 66. Seeing as the literature published that they only have 2,000 parking spaces, we were a bit worried about being able to park, since I could count over 200 cars trying to get in just from where we were in line. Fortunately, we did find parking. However, my recommendation is to GO EARLY to secure a spot. It's a very popular attraction.

* After waiting in a long line that moved fairly quickly, we got in (admission is free) and I bolted for the SST. But the first thing I saw when I rounded the corner was the resplendent Boeing 707. It was big, beautiful and bold. I imagined the stories that big bird could tell of its travels around the world.

* The SST was an Air France, but sorry to say I did not get the registration number. (I'm sure someone in the forum knows which one it is.) I stood there in complete awe -- and a bit of sadness -- as I reflected on this symbol of achievement and its inescapable demise. The pathway in the museum allowed you to walk underneath the ship, and it amused me when I looked up and saw "toilet servicing" on a hatch above my head!

* Roughly half of the museum consists of war planes, which don't excite me, but I understand their historical significance. The Enola Gay of course is a controversial bird and its presence has caused some protest, but from a technical perspective I understand why it is there and I do think it has a place in an aviation museum.

* Another tip: There is an observation tower for Dulles located in the museum. Unfortunately, I did not get to go in because the line for the tower closes at 3:45 p.m., and I did not know this! There were signs posted near the tower section, but since I did not go to that area right away, I didn't see them. I was majorly disappointed!

* The museum shop was CROWDED to the point I could not stand it any longer. I felt like I was suffocating. I wanted a windbreaker but they didn't have an XS and the S was too large for me.

Anyway, that's it in a nutshell. I also visited the "Main" Air & Space museum on the Smithsonian campus earlier in the week. There is a free shuttle service between that one and the Udvar-Hazy Center, but they fill up early in the day. We didn't plan to use the shuttle anyway so it was a non issue for us.

All in all, definitely worth a visit!
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RE: My Visit To The New Smithsnin Air/Space Mus. @ IAD

Tue Jan 06, 2004 10:34 am

Thanks for the comments and "warnings" about this very popular Museum! Nice report! The Washington Post had a review recently of this new addition to the Smithsonian, and it was very complementary.
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RE: My Visit To The New Smithsnin Air/Space Mus. @ IAD

Tue Jan 06, 2004 12:36 pm

One of the stories that 707 could tell you was on it's very first test flight )I do believe) the test pilot did a roll with it (flew it upside down for a short period).

God bless through Jesus,

God bless through Jesus, Jeff
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RE: My Visit To The New Smithsnin Air/Space Mus. @ IAD

Wed Jan 07, 2004 7:08 am

I will just wait until all the excitement dies down before I visit it. I don't want to "Fight" For a parking space. I may drive up there this summer.
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RE: My Visit To The New Smithsnin Air/Space Mus. @ IAD

Wed Jan 07, 2004 11:33 am

Dont worry about parking. I also went to the UDvar-hazy museum on the saterday after christmas.BTW the concorde is F-BVFA.

Parking is not too much to worry about.If you go to the far end,you will find a few open spaces.I went on a saterday at noon and i found a spot really quickly.Unfortenetly they charge $12.When you enter you are on a ramp above the floor.right infront of ya is the SR-71 blackbird.It flew during the 70's i believe over moscow,and if it did-It flew over my moma and papa Big grin
most of the warbirds were near the enterance.The area around the Enterprise space shuttle is closed off-you can still see it perfectly,but cant walk right by it yet.As soon as you leave the space hanger,youre gonna want to go to concorde.it pretty much lures you right too it,but you will most likely stop by the Enola gay and other stuff b4 it(i would think for a museum like that,the damn thing would be on top of something more elaborate than 3 boxes).Concorde was bigger than i thought,and the windows were SMALL!!Anyway the lear looked pretty small,seems you crawl more than walk around in it-but as mr lear once said,"do you walk around in your rolls royce?"After concorde theres a big open space before the massive hanger doors,and right now theres a subway there.I heard a 727 and alot of other stuff is coming to the museum.The observation tower as cool. If you look north you can see the main terminal/tower.the tower is right by 1R.Alot of planes were landing on 1R that day and i tried spotting.Its a killer if you dont have autofocus on your camera,and a telephoto lens helps too...

If your driving,expect a LONG wait on the little road to parking.The cool thing is,because you move slowly,1 or 2 planes will fly right above you.make sure to have your camera ready at all times!

Plus there are lines EVERYWHERE.If your impatient,try coming in about 5 years Big grin Big grin
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RE: My Visit To The New Smithsnin Air/Space Mus. @ IAD

Thu Jan 08, 2004 3:55 am


Yes, I was surprised by how small the Concorde windows are/were. In cabin photos, they don't appear as small to me.

I forgot to mention in my report that I enjoyed "waiting" on the street to the museum because it was right next to the Dulles runway!!! :>)
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RE: My Visit To The New Smithsnin Air/Space Mus. @ IAD

Thu Jan 08, 2004 5:29 am

767 your damn right.its a long wait,but those planes are 100-200ft above you.The fence is 25 yards to your right-an air france 777 just happened to land on top of us.Sry but it was going to fast to get registration  SadIf it helps it was landing at IAD dec 28 between 1-2pm.
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