Sunday, 19 July 2015

Smithsonian Air and Space Museum - Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center

Recently had the opportunity to visit the Steven F Udvar-Hazy Center (one of the two Washington sites of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum). It was very Wow. Here are some pictures of a few of the exhibits (most images are clickable to get to a higher resolution version).....

First up, and the biggest card in this metaphorical deck, is the Space Shuttle Discovery:

TheSpace Shuttle Discovery, veteran of 39 space missions

Looks like the discussion about the shape of the main wheel door was on a Friday.
NSB imagines an engineer saying  "Look, just make it a rectangle dude" 

Very surprised to see that the surface is not at all smooth.... you can clearly see in this close up.

Black heat resistant tiles individually shaped and marked... can be seen in this close up

The business end of Discovery.
Second in line for a mention is the legendary SR-71 Blackbird, one of the fastest planes of all time. You can read a fascinating history of the planes development, written by Peter Merlin, here:

The SR-71 Blackbird

Very 50s look from this angle

The pointiest shock cones in aviation history

Always been intrigued by the downward pointing leading edge 

Rear of the plane makes a big statement

Don't be standing here at engine start time.

Here is a couple of pictures of an Air France Concorde, a plane that is without doubt the most beautiful airliner of all time, and was born from a joint venture between the UK and France.

The very clever and complex inlets on Concorde

Wonder why the edge of the  wing root / fuselage fairing  isn't a smooth line...

Now moving briefly to WW2....

WW2 German Arado Ar234 jet bomber...

...whose small size can be seen when compared to the FW190 next to it

Quick trip to the 1920s...

NSB thought this incredibly stylish 1920s Ballanca CF biplane must
 have been designed by an italian.... and it was! 

And now, rotorcraft:

The Hiller YROE is a very small helicopter indeed.

The reason some early 1950 helicopters have very bulgy noses
 is that this was where the engine was, as in the case of the Sikorsky H-19

Lastly, was very interested in the examples of "general aviation" and homebuilt aircraft that were on display, some of which are shown below:

The Beck Mahoney Sorceress, one of the most successful air racers of all time.

The Rutan Quickie, which has its landing wheels built into its front wings

The Rutan Vari-eze ("very easy" - geddit?) home build plane.
(It does have a nosewheel, which has been  retracted in this display)

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Apollo Programme Manuals
Curiosity, Twitter and the British Connection
Interview - Chris Lintott and the Zooniverse

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