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Thu, July 9 2009

Dome In A Day: Progress on the Public Observatory Project

The Public Observatory Project (POP) is nearer to completion.  We are in the process of installing a large professional Boller & Chivens telescope in a 22-foot dome that will be available for four hours each day (weather permitting) to view the Sun, Moon and planets from the east terrace of the Museum.

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Tue, June 30 2009

X-Ray Analysis of the Starship Enterprise

When the National Air and Space Museum opened in 1976, the production model of the Starship Enterprise was prominently and dramatically displayed hanging at the entrance of “Life in the Universe” gallery. Later, when that gallery closed, and the starship was moved to several other locations within the museum.

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Star Trek Starship "Enterprise" on display in Rocketry and Spaceflight
Fri, June 26 2009

Insect Power

When a colleague of ours, the curator of the model airplane collection, Tom Dietz, passed away recently, I was reminded of the time I spoke with him about two of the Museum’s model airplanes that I find most intriguing.

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Insect Power
Wed, June 24 2009

The Donor Making The Difference: The Eagle Is Being Restored

“I do not recall anyone else near my age giving tours or being turned loose to meet and greet the general public, ” he recalls, “ but it was a joy for me to share my enthusiasm with citizens from across the world, and turn their casual museum visits into a thrilling learning experience.”

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Lunar Module Restoration From Above
Wed, June 24 2009

What We're Working on in the Restoration Shop (Part 2)

In addition to the high-priority Barron Hilton Pioneers of Flight aircraft being refurbished at the Garber Facility, we have a number of other projects progressing at a slower pace.

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Curtiss-Wright CW-1 Junior in Restoration Shop
Tue, June 23 2009

Don't Know What a Slide Rule is For

Of course the designers also used digital computers, but in the 1960s computers were giant machines that you programmed with punched cards, and they were strictly reserved for only the most complex mathematical calculations. As the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission approaches, we are constantly reminded of how incredible that voyage was.

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Fri, June 19 2009

What the Well-Dressed Pilot Wore in 1941

Looking elegant but a bit bulky, Lieutenant Gilbert L. Meyers of the 35th Pursuit Squadron models his government issued flying ensemble: an A-8 oxygen mask, B-6 goggles, B-3 winter jacket, A-3 trousers, B-5 helmet, A-9 gloves, A-6 shoes, and S-1 harness. 

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Rudy Arnold Photograph of Lt. Gilbert L. Meyers in Flight Gear
Fri, June 19 2009

Friends Forever

On June 23, 1948, the Soviet Union blockaded ground access to West Berlin, at that time occupied by the United States, Great Britain, and France. All road, rail, and barge traffic was shut down. President Harry S. Truman and Gen. Lucius D. Clay, the American Military Governor of Germany, resolved to keep the city supplied by air. The resulting “Operation Vittles” – also known as the Berlin Airlift – was a massive combined effort of all the U.S. armed services and the Western powers.

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Operation Little Vittles, Berlin Airlift
Wed, June 17 2009

1909 Alexander Graham Bell Letter

On May 14, 1909, Alexander Graham Bell wrote to Charles D. Walcott, then Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, detailing his plans to donate C. H. Claudy’s photographs of the Wright brothers’ 1908 Army Trials at Fort Myer, Virginia. The two page letter details the significance of the photos and his desire to have them perserved by the Smithsonian institution. 

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1909 Wright Military Flyer
Mon, June 15 2009

Tom Dietz (1958-2009)

Last month, the National Air and Space Museum lost long-time employee, Tom Dietz. Tom began his time at the Museum in the late 1980s as an intern, and joined the permanent staff in 1989 as a museum specialist in the Aeronautics Division. 

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