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Wed, October 21 2009

Runaway Balloons

The afternoon of October 15, 2009 was one of those rare moments when Americans from coast-to-coast were riveted to their television sets by a news story unfolding in real time.  Six year old Falcon Heene was reported to be trapped aboard a helium balloon floating across the Colorado landscape at 7000 feet. The image on the screen was surreal, a strange craft looking like a cross between a Mylar grocery store balloon and a flying saucer, with a small circular structure on the bottom that appeared to be just large enough to house a small child. When the balloon came naturally to earth after a fifty mile flight, however, the boy was not aboard.

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Marth and David Harvey After Rescue from Runaway Balloon
Sat, October 17 2009

Fly Now! Making the National Air and Space Museum's Poster Collection Accessible, Online

As mentioned in Dom Pisano’s recent post “From Collecting to Curating,” six interns, including myself, and two volunteers (with our supervisor, enough for a baseball team!) photographed, scanned and catalogued much of the museum’s collection of over 1,300 posters at the Paul E. Garber Facility's collections processing unit this summer. It sounds like a lot of posters, but you may not have seen any of them, unless you have a great memory of advertisements you glimpsed in airports over the years while running to catch your plane.

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Mon, October 5 2009

A Beautiful Bird Grounded

Concorde service came to an end in 2003 when British Airways made the last commercial Concorde flight from New York to London. 

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Concorde at the Udvar-Hazy Center
Fri, September 25 2009

Fourteen Days on “The Moon” in Arizona

It’s a quarter of a million miles to the Moon, we’ve got fully charged batteries, half a pack of space food, it’s daytime, and we’re wearing spacesuits. Hit it.

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Planetary Geologist Brent Garry on Desert RATS Field Mission
Mon, September 14 2009

From Collecting to Curating

The Museum-going public doesn’t often get the opportunity to observe the work that goes on behind the scenes in a museum. The National Air and Space Museum’s poster collection is a case in point. The items in this collection, which range from notices for early aviation exhibitions to commercial airline advertising, were collected over many years. It is only recently, however, that the posters have been curated; i.e., cared for as a collection. 

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Fly The Finest Fly Trans World Airlines
Tue, September 8 2009

This Android is no Dummy

First of all there is a question of just what to call this device. Is it a “dummy”? That’s what its creators called it sometimes, but that sounds too pejorative and does not give credit to its complexity. Is it a “robot”? That’s what it looks like. Or is it an “android,” defined by the dictionary as “an automaton made to resemble a human being”?

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Spacesuit Android at the Udvar-Hazy Center
Tue, September 1 2009

Contest Winners, and I, Enjoy a Real Night at the Museum

Recently I was involved in a “first” in my career here at the National Air and Space Museum – a sleepover! About six winners (and their families) in the Post Cereal Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian contest spent the night in the National Mall building on Friday, August 7. The lucky slumber-partygoers had competed in an online sweepstakes that was promoted on Post cereal boxes.

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Mon, August 10 2009

The Day I Met a Communist Defector

When you are visiting the Udvar-Hazy Center, you will come across a display case that holds the flightsuit of a former MiG pilot named Frank Jarecki. 

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Lt. Franciszek Jarecki flight suit at the Udvar-Hazy Center
Tue, August 4 2009

Q. and A. in the Archives Division

It was about twenty years ago, but no one in the Museum’s Archives Division can now remember who first asked us the immortal question - what‘s the wingspan of a Lockheed P-38 Lightning?

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Q. and A. in the Archives Division

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