Behind the Scenes

 

Much-Beloved Jenny Now in a Place of Honor

Jenny at A&I

The 90-year-old JN-4 Jenny has not been on public display since the early 1970s, when it was on housed in the Arts & Industries Building, as shown at left. It is one of the oldest aircraft in the National Air and Space Museum's collection, and is near and dear to the hearts of many.

The Jenny is also one of the few examples of aircraft from its era that is nearly completely original, with very few repairs or reproduction parts. Because of this, Museum staffers had serious concerns about how best to safeguard it during the seven mile trip from the Garber Restoration and Storage Facility in Maryland to the building on the National Mall.

Restoration staff members cleaned and made minor repairs to the aircraft over several weeks in preparation for display. They also dismantled part of the wings so that they could travel inside an enclosed box trailer, since the fabric-covered airplane could not have withstood the whipping wind on an open trailer.

Collections Processing Unit staff designed specific and unique transportation methods for the move. With only inches to spare, the wings were gently loaded into the trailer on their leading edges, taking care not to disturb the delicate fabric. Ordinarily, wings are covered with foam or blankets and then ratchet tie-down belts are used over or around the object. This method could not be used with the Jenny's wings due to their fragility.

Curtiss JN-4 Jenny's Wings Ready for Move to America by Air
Curtiss JN-4 Jenny Ready for Move to America by Air

There were four strong metal points on the interior of the wings that could be tied to using parachute cord. This avoided touching the artifact unnecessarily. Long sturdy pieces of wood were secured to one end of each of the wings, providing another point where staff could secure the wing to the trailer. The wood also acted as a break in case of an emergency stop.

The wings are so large that they were transported in one tractor trailer load while the fuselage and tail were transported separately.

Through the combined effort of Collections Processing and Restoration Units—and with the help of two forklifts and a crane boom—the Jenny was safely delivered to the Museum in Washington, DC in 2007. In 2009, however, Museum staff made the critical decision to move the fragile aircraft to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia to help preserve the aviation classic. Curator Peter L. Jakab shares more about Saving Jenny on the Museum's blog.

Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" Installed in America by Air
   

Behind The Scenes