The Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center provides extra room for much of their extensive aircraft and spacecraft that cannot fit into their location on the National Mall in Washington, DC. It's about 25 miles west of the city on the grounds of Washington-Dulles International Airport.
This shark-toothed Curtiss P-40 aircraft built in Buffalo, NY has been painted in the colors of an American World War II fighter called the Warhawk. This one actually belonged to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) during the war so it would have been known as a Kittyhawk. The British version was called a Tomahawk. This particular airplane belonged to a Canadian squadron that moved to Alaska to help defend the Aleutian Islands. More information can be found on the Smithsonian's Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk page.
Nearly every American pilot of World War II developed his basic flying skills using the Stearman, an open-cockpit biplane developed in the 1930's. This specific airplane served during the war at the Naval Air Station in Ottumwa, Iowa. More information can be found on the Smithsonian's Boeing-Stearman N2S-5 Kaydet page.
The Westland Lysander IIIA could take off and land in places not normally considered runways. They specialized in covert operations during World War II such as picking up and dropping off secret agents behind enemy lines. This particular model was built in Canada in 1942 but it's not known how it was used during the war. More information can be found on the Smithsonian's Westland Lysander IIIA page.
The Enola Gay is certainly one of the most famous and controversial aircraft in history. A crew flew this airplane over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 and dropped an atomic bomb on the city, contributing to the unconditional surrender of the Japanese several days later. The Enola Gay went into service in July 1945 from the Martin plant in Omaha, Nebraska, and became the property of the Smithsonian Institution in 1949. It was kept in storage for most of the time since then. The Enola Gay was placed on public display only recently after undergoing a lengthy, multi-year restoration. More information can be found on the Smithsonian's Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay page.
Grumman designed the G-22 Gulfhawk II as an acrobatic aircraft for the Gulf Oil Companies in 1936. It delighted spectators at air shows across the United States and throughout Europe up through 1948. Notice the unusual way the wheels retract into the fuselage. More information can be found on the Smithsonian's Grumman G-22 Gulfhawk II page.
This sleek little airplane won 45 of 48 contests, retiring in 1999 as the most successful racer in history. It was designed and flown by Jon Sharp, and set new world speed records for class C-la (Group 1) aircraft on a 3 kilometer course. To gain a perspective of its diminutive size, note the engine of the Boeing 367-80 "Dash 80" in the background. More information can be found on the Smithsonian's Sharp DR 90 "Nemesis" page.
Some people like to build their own airplanes. The Monnett Moni could be assembled from a kit sold by John Monnett during the early 1980's, using common shop tools. It was designed to be both fun and economical. More information can be found on the Smithsonian's Monnett Moni page.
Blackbirds, named for the specially-designed dark radar-absorbing paint, provided reconnaissance over hostile territory during the Cold War. This SR-71 Blackbird logged 2,801 hours of flight time over its 24 year Air Force career before being delivered to the Smithsonian. More information can be found on the Smithsonian's Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird page.
This very first Space Shuttle, the Enterprise, never traveled into space nor was it outfitted for this purpose. Rather, it was used to test the Shuttle's ability to maneuver within the Earth's atmosphere, specifically to determine how it would perform during approaches and landings.
The Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center contains a model of the Mars Sojourner Rover circa 1997. In this display, Mars Pathfinder has deflated its airbags after successfully parachuting and bouncing to the surface. It has just opened to reveal the Sojourner Rover ready to explore the surface of the red planet. A photograph from the actual Mars Pathfinder mission in the background shows the scenery that appeared as the Sojourner prepared to roll away from its base.
This walkway extends from the entrance of the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center. It looks much like an airstrip or the deck of an aircraft carrier. The sculpture at the far end is reminiscent of a contrail of a jet as it arcs into the sky. The objects on either side take the form of wing flaps, and contain the engraved names of aviation pioneers, heroes, and supporters. This is known as the Wall of Honor.
Washington-Dulles International Airport
Loudoun County, Virginia, USA (January 2007)
One of the interesting features of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is a mock control tower. Visitors can ride an elevator up to the top of the tower for 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Washington-Dulles airport appears nearby. The Center practically lines up with one of the runways so visitors can watch jets fly by on their way to and from the airport.
Interestingly, while the Udvar-Hazy Center is in Virginia's Fairfax County, the nearby control tower and terminal for Washington-Dulles International Airport is in neighboring Loudoun County.
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