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!