Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum

From my travels, April 20, 2022.

The boys and I were on spring break and spending some time with their “Nene” and “Baba” in Columbia, MD. One of the things that we wanted to do together was visit the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Air & Space Museum in Northern Virginia.

We wandered around the impressively large museum for a while – they have a huge collection of aircraft – some with a particular historical significance. That day, we saw the Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis that first broke the sound barrier (seemingly out here because of renovations happening to the museum in downtown DC). We also got to see the B-29 Enola Gay and I did my best to explain the complicated history around the use of nuclear weapons at the end of WWII.

The boys pose with the <i>Enola Gay</i> - <i>Photo by the author</i>
The boys pose with the Enola GayPhoto by the author

Both boys really enjoyed seeing the SR-71 in the collection – which set a speed record on it’s final flight from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, making the journey in 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 20 seconds, to become part of this museum. On the day we visited, they had something of a remote, Zoom-like setup going with a large TV and an expert on the SR-71 who was giving a presentation and answering questions. Isaac got to ask her a couple and felt like it was the coolest thing in the world.

Of course, the Space Shuttle Discovery was also a hit. It’s the centerpiece of the museum’s space wing, and it’s impressive to see not only its size, but to know that this vehicle went into space so many times.

With the Space Shuttle <i>Discovery</i>. - <i>Photo by the author</i>
With the Space Shuttle Discovery. – Photo by the author

One of the more interactive exhibits was done by Garmin. They had a computer game-like display with a yoke that was attached to a model plane suspended in a glass box. As you moved the yoke, the plane moved, too, demonstrating the concepts of pitch, roll, and yaw. That was pretty neat.

At the end of our visit, “Nene” wanted to go up in the observation tower. Isaac went along with her, while the rest of us stayed a little closer to the ground.

I really like this shot of John overlooking the main floor of the museum. - <i>Photo by the author</i>
I really like this shot of John overlooking the main floor of the museum. – Photo by the author

When we arrived back at “Nene’s” house, the boys showed her their latest open source video game obsession: Minetest. We had set up a server for the boys to collaborate on building structures together, and much to their delight, “Nene” fired up her computer and joined them. It was a very sweet cross-generational moment.

LAN party at "Nene's" house! - <i>Photo by the author</i>
LAN party at “Nene’s” house! – Photo by the author

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