February 1, 2013 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

Soaring with eagles, crossing oceans in the air, and zooming above clouds changed to the realm of possibility with the advent of first flight.  On that December day of 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright flew 12 seconds at Kitty Hawk.  The Wright brothers did not actually patent a flying machine, not even an airplane – they developed and patented the first three-axis control system because they believed that was the missing element in the “flight problem” encountered until that time.  Also on the topic of flight, hot air balloons were first recorded on November 21, 1783 (first manned, untethered flight), but hot air balloons are counted as balloon aircraft not proper airplane aircraft.

For this issue we pulled from two museums that specialize in the history and future of flight.  The National Museum of the United States Air Force (link) in Dayton Ohio and the Museum of Flight (link) located in Seattle, Washington.

Early Years Gallery at the National Museum of the US Air ForceEarly Years Gallery at the National Museum of the US Air Force RQ-1 Predator, from the National Museum of the US Air Force, details at www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=344RQ-1 Predator, from the National Museum of the US Air Force

The US Air Force museum is spread among four large hangers and a large circular room of ballistic missiles.  The displays cover full size airplanes, pilot artifacts, spy satellites, space capsules, technology exhibits and the story of the people who made up the US Air Force.

From the National Museum of the US Air Force,http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=527 Boeing B-29 Superfortress from the National Museum of the US Air Force.The US Air Force Museum is a very tripod friendly place. This was a two second exposure.  The planes are mostly close together so it takes a few minutes to get clean sight lines without something distracting in the background.  As is, you’ll find replicas of Little Boy and Fatman in the lower left corner.

The three bengals are also interested in flight, specifically that of birds, especially the hummingbirds that feed outside their favorite window.  The three of them will sit and stare for hours as the little birds flit in and out around the feeder.  Did you know that the red dye used in commercial hummingbird food causes a softening of the shells of their eggs?  It’s much better for the birds if you make your own hummingbird food by boiling 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water and letting the mixture cool before serving.

And yes, bengals also try to fly. EOS 30D_IMG_6345

Back in Seattle, a bit south of I-90 and right next to I-5, you’ll find the Museum of Flight.  It’s much smaller than the museum in Dayton, but has the same breadth and ambition to cover the history of aviation and space flight.  The Museum of Flight also has Boeing’s first building, the Red Barn where you can appreciate the craftsmanship that made the first airplanes.

The Museum of Flight was founded in 1965. It is the largest private air and space museum in the world and attracts around 400,000 visitors a year. The first facility was about 3,000,000 cubic feet and has since been expanded multiple times to include new exhibits. The newest one is of NASA’s Full Fuselage Trainer which began to arrive at the facility in 2012.

The Museum of Flight fills every nook of the Gallery.  Shot with the Nokia Lumia 920's panorama.  See the link for the full sized image.  Other than being there, it's hard to appreciate all they have on display.

The Museum of Flight fills every nook of the Gallery.
Shot with the Nokia Lumia 920’s panorama. See the link for the full sized image. Other than being there, it’s hard to appreciate all they have on display.

Curtiss P-40N Warhawk at the Museum of Flight

Taken hand held with the Nokia Lumia 920. The spotlights are bright in this dark room. The Lumia does a great job indoors.
Curtiss P-40N Warhawk at the Museum of Flight
Odie rides shotgun on the HH-52 Seaguard Odie is ready to comfort the rescued in this Coast Guard Seaguard.

Shot with a 200mm telephoto from the second level of the Museum of Flight. It’s a bit busier here than in Dayton, so set your tripod out of the way.

The Museum of Flight didn’t get a shuttle, but if you like to pretend being an astronaut, they got something better. You can walk into the cargo hold of the trainer – it’s about the size of a school bus. The Shuttle, for all it’s done, is itty bitty in big big space.

This was shot both with my Canon 60D and Nokia Lumia 920. Can you guess which it is? See the link to find out.

The common plane between the two museums (at least of the ones we chose to post photos of) is the SR-71 Blackbird. This plane was developed in the 1960s and served with the Air Force from 1964 to 1998. It still holds the record of the fastest, air-breathing manned craft since 1976. The common defense of this plane after ground to air missiles was to simply accelerate and outrace the projectile. As of 1990, the total hours flown by the 32 SR-71 planes came to 53,490 of which about 11,000 were spent on missions.

From the National Museum of the US Air Force, the SR-71 Blackbird is the iconic spy plane.
This plane has a lot of rivets. But I wish I had a polarizer for the 70-200 to cut the glare and let those rivets pop.

These next pictures are both of the left engine on the SR-71 using the 70-200mm lens at full zoom.  But one is taken from across the main gallery and the other from right below the tip of the engine.   The difference is simply where you stand.  That’s the richness of both these museums – the sights, perspectives and details  are all there, just waiting for you to get in position.

The business end …
… of the SR-71 engine.
Kuri heard that flight is possible with balloons. 121108-60D-5852

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