From the Past to the Future
A trip to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum
General info: free, kids friendly, accessible by metro, photography allowed, by the National Mall (plenty of things to do), food nearby (food trucks).
If you find yourself in DC and you enjoy learning about the universe, engines, navigation and airplanes you must visit the Air & Space Museum. If you like science… Or if you have spent half your life travelling in a plane like me… then visit that museum! I’m going to share with you some of my favorite parts but keep in mind that I didn’t get to see everything as some exhibitions were closed due to renovations.
Fun facts I didn’t know and was worth to discover:
· Before NASA came into existence there was NACA which stands for The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.
· In space there is no resistance to slow down a satellite, which means that satellites can have different shapes.
· Launch-entry suits are also called pumpkin suits. Like life preservers, they are orange, thus noticeable to see in a case of an emergency.
· The development of navigation is fascinating to study. Before the time of the clock, captains had to use the stars, the position of the sun etc. to find their way. From radio compass, to radio range, to navigation radar, to VOR, to Loran-C to…GPS! A synchronized world?
· Showers in spacecrafts look like vacuum cleaners.
I’m sure you’ve all studied the arms race extensively at school (especially if you went to an American school like I did). The competition between the USSR and the USA was not a secret. But did you know there was a stratosphere race? Apparently, in the 1930s people from Europe and the US used balloons to compete in capturing the world’s absolute altitude record. There was also the Pulitzer trophy race. This race was all about speed; a winning pilot once claimed to have traveled “faster than the wind.”
Don’t leave museum until:
You have visited the Wrights exhibition. Next time you’re using a plane to travel, thank them. If you care to learn about the Flyer, the first powered airplane, stop by and read their story. The exhibition itself is very picturesque with a huge design of a plane in the middle; the entire room is colored themed and feels as if you’re walking through a woodworker’s old home. As you exit the room, you see Neil Armstrong’s spacesuit which is simply really cool.
Overall, the museum is easy to navigate, interactive and can be seen in a day. It doesn’t compare to some of NY’s museums (if you’re from NY you know what I mean) but it’s definitely worth a visit because of its uniqueness.
If you happen to be visiting with someone else, you can expand your adventure and explore the National Mall. Nearby, there are statues, monuments and also a beautiful pond where you can sit and admire the architecture. I didn’t spend time looking at any of the above (I just passed by) as I recommend going with friends or a loved one. While the museum is a great activity if you’re alone; the scenery outside is worth some company.
Museum rating: 9/10
P.S. Look for another post soon to find out my impressions of the National Mall and all attractions around it. It’s on my bucket list to explore soon!