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Behind the Scenes

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Wed, December 21 2011

The Meaning Behind Folding an American Flag

The American flag is one of the most important symbols of the United States.  For many, it symbolizes respect, honor, and freedom.  For others, the flag represents reflection, courage and sorrow.  

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Mon, December 12 2011

That’s One Small Step. . .

These suits have come a long way. True, it’s only 37 miles from Suitland, Maryland to Chantilly, VA. On a good day, that’s less than an hour’s drive on the beltway. But today, like 42 years ago, these suits are worlds away from where they came.

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Tue, October 25 2011

Secretary Langley on a Really Good Cup of Coffee

When I was working on a collection of the aeronautical papers of Samuel Pierpont Langley (1834-1906), the third Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, I was struck by the wealth of detail in his research and the meticulousness of his note-taking. And as a man whose interests ranged from astronomy, astrophysics, aeronautics, and bird flight, mathematics, and the reckoning of standard time, Langley enjoyed observing and describing all sorts of processes — and then suggesting improvements.

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Sun, October 16 2011

Packing up Our Secret Decoder Ring

You know when you're packing up for a move to a new house — boxes everywhere — frantic activity to get everything stored away before the movers arrive,  and you still have to clean out the fridge.

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Thu, October 13 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs

Jobs made a donation to the Museum to support the Beyond the Limits Gallery. He also gave us a NeXT workstation, which we promised him we would use to develop a flight simulator for the gallery. But after some efforts, we eventually gave up. I regret we were not able to make his NeXT donation work. The NeXT computer was tricky to work with, but it did have its fans. One researcher at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland got one, and while we were struggling to program ours, he used his to write a program for the Internet that he called the World Wide Web. Maybe you’ve heard of it.

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Wed, October 5 2011

Flying the “Spirit of Tuskegee” Part III

This piece is a follow up to the posts below, in which I describe my experience flying a PT-13 Stearman that was used to train Tuskegee Airmen during WWII, from Moton Field, Alabama to Andrews AFB.

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Sun, October 2 2011

Moving the National Air and Space Museum's Archives

  October is American Archives Month—a time to celebrate the importance of archives across the country. In honor of Archives Month, we’re participating in a pan-Smithsonian blogathon throughout the month. We, and other bloggers from across the Smithsonian, will be blogging about our archival collections, issues, and behind-the-scenes projects. We encourage you to check out the posts on all of the participating blogs, as well as related events and resources. You may have heard that the National Air and Space Museum Archives is moving.  The collections and offices are moving from the current location of Building 12 at the Paul E. Garber Restoration and Storage Facility and from the Museum in Washington, D.C. to their new location at the Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center

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Fri, September 9 2011

Preserving and Displaying the “Bat-Wing Ship” – August Update

This post is a follow up to Preserving and Displaying the "Bat-Wing Ship" published on June 24, 2011.

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Mon, August 15 2011

"How the Shuttle Got Its Wings"

Learn how Museum educators are using interactive theater presentations to educate visitors about the space shuttle.

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Thu, July 28 2011

Astronomy Night at the Museum

The night opened with few clouds and a bright waxing gibbous moon. Alex and I, interns at the National Air and Space Museum, stood outside with Sean O'Brien, astronomy educator at the Museum and Albert Einstein Planetarium technician, to survey the sky and anticipate the night. This was my first star party at the Museum. As we set up, the first line of visitors formed outside the door of the Public Observatory waiting for 6 p.m. — opening time. We set up the Tele Vue telescope first. The view was spectacular. Along the terminator, the line between the dark and light sides of the Moon, craters popped between the stark white of the moon and the blue of the sky.

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