Bob Hoover passed away yesterday, after a lifetime of adventures rivaling any work of fact or fiction. Bob was an aviation legend, a role-model to generations of pilots, a friend to this Museum, and a gentleman to all who knew him. With the rest of the aviation community, we mourn the passing of the man Jimmy Doolittle called “the greatest stick and rudder man who ever lived.” In the coming days, people all over the world will celebrate his life by trading their favorite Bob Hoover stories. My favorite Bob Hoover story goes like this...
In the Museum’s exhibition Art of the Airport Tower, and companion book, dramatic stone and metal structures stretch out over muted skies speckled with clouds. Look closer. If you’re like photographer and museum specialist Carolyn Russo these photographs of airport towers reveal something else: Swiss cheese, birds, insects, and even top hats.
The Museum recently added the Insitu ScanEagle X200 unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or drone, to its collection. This ScanEagle, currently on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, served in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) demonstrations from 2013 to 2015 to integrate UAS into the U.S. National Airspace System. It performed ice floe monitoring missions in northern Alaska and beyond visual line of sight validation flights, including railroad track inspection in New Mexico. ScanEagle was the first drone to receive an FAA restricted category type certificate.
Pablo de León has been in the space business for nearly 20 years, working as a space project manager and spacesuit designer. De León spoke with visitors at the Museum in Washington, DC during our 2016 Hispanic Heritage Month: Innovators in Aviation and Space Heritage Family Day as part of the Smithsonian Latino Center’s ¡Descubra! Meet the Science Expert series.
Throughout her military career, Lt. Col. Christine Mau has helped prove that women can perform, outstandingly, in some of the toughest positions in the United States Air Force. And, as a fighter pilot, she has done so with only a small community of female military pilots.
Being a member of a science team of a planetary mission is like being a starter on a major league baseball team—you’re in the game. That’s how I felt as a member of the MESSENGER mission to Mercury. During the final months of MESSENGER’s time in orbit, before the fuel on the spacecraft was expended and crashed on Mercury’s surface, a decision had to be made—keep the spacecraft in its nominal mapping orbit as long as possible or let the spacecraft altitude drift lower to get as close to the planet as possible.
The Museum is proud to have the Ilyushin Il-2 in its collections, as one of the few large artifacts in the Museum's possession associated with the Soviet Air Force in World War II. Once on exhibition, the plane will close a large void in the Museum’s presentation. But before the Shturmovik can enter the workshop, we have to learn as much as possible about the aircraft and its history.