(Edited more than few times to update those aircraft I couldn't identify... Thanks readers :))
My first bit of advice for anyone planning on visiting the museum would be to arrive early.
We didn't. As a result we weren't able to visit the R&D and Presidential hangars over at the base. (You now have to catch a ride on a bus to visit them, the last time we visited you were able to drive over on your own. Guess that went out the window with 9/11)
One more thing. Wear comfortable shoes.
The Modern Flight Gallery was beckoning us with stories from the Korean War (which my Grandfather proudly served in), and the Vietnam War (or Conflict if you prefer).
Betty Jo here is an F-82B Twin Mustang. It flew from Hawaii to New York, the longest non-stop flight ever by a prop fighter.
Another one that I can't identify. I'm sure that I snapped this strictly because anything with Dopey the Dwarf painted on the side of it is automatically cool. Or it could be because it reminds me of how so many ambulance services are run. Flip a coin.
(Okay, so it's a B-29 Stratofortress. Thank you to Billy Sparks!)
F-22A Raptor. She's a sexy one. One who really doesn't belong in this hangar, but I'm guessing that space is kind of scarce right now and this was the only place they had to plop her down.
I don't think that we ever figured out what this thing was... It sure looked cool though. It's hanging above the F-22, so I'm guessing it's another one of those aircraft that they couldn't find room for in the proper gallery.
(Edited once again to add: "The aircraft hanging above the F-22 Raptor appears to be a Boeing Bird of Prey". -- Terenzio Tirta Thanks Terenzio. :)
My baby brother the last time we visited... Just about 10 years ago. Look at that baby face. :) I believe he's in the F-4 cockpit there.
And for comparison. Still with the baby face. We waited in line for a few minutes for this picture... Behind about twenty Boy Scouts. We have no shame when it comes to the chance to sit in a piece of history.
They had some pretty awesome Sikorsky's in there as well. Unfortunately my lack of tripod (oops, left it by the back door!) bit me in the butt. Not one of my shots turned out.
Onward to the Coldwar Gallery.
"McHottie, I'm beginning to think that this B-1 you speak of doesn't exist... Are you sure it's not a figment of your imagination?" He's talked about his time spent as a B-1 Crew Chief for as long as I've known him. I knew how excited he was to show us his baby. I just can't pass up the opportunity to screw with him.
He elbows me and simply points. "Right there, Epi."
You're right, McHottie. She's beautiful. The lines... Awesome. He spent a good half hour visiting with his B-1, I spent half an hour admiring how beautiful she is.
Not a good place to be standing when they fire that bad boy up. Clearly.
"Epi, check this out." McHottie is pointing up above the B-1
"Holy Cow. Consult the Book of Armaments!" *snort* I never pass up an opportunity to quote some Monty Python.
The above is a Cruise Missile, with a range of 2300 miles. Other than I can't remember what I read about it.
It was time to move on, we still had a lot of favorites to see... Mine included. Although I have to admit, I'm definitely a fan of the B-1 particularly now that I've seen it up close.
But not before a little more shooty goodness. Another possibility for my dream ambulance. I'm not sure what caliber it is, but I have a feeling it could effectively clear traffic for me.
This is my favorite aircraft, my baby. The F-16A Fighting Falcon. Lightweight, low cost, and pretty damn good at what it does.
And so sexy.
Yes, I'm a dork. I make no apologies for it.
F-... I have no idea. If anyone knows what this is let me know :)
(Edited to add: This is the F-102 "Delta Dart", the fighter GWB flew.
A difficult airplane to fly, it killed more than its fair share of complacent pilots. -- Thank you Greybeard, once again!)
Some guy I'm related to in front of the F-15.
And finally, Baby Brother's "Eleanor" (If you have never seen Gone In 60 Seconds you may not get the reference, my apologies)...
The SR-71 Blackbird. You have to respect an aircraft that is capable of mach 3. That's over 2,000 mph. Or five miles faster than McHottie's code three driving. This particular SR-71 flew the first operational sortie.
Baby Brother is a huge fan.
He's also a big fan of signs. Hugely enthusiastic about them. Yep. That's him.
And finally, the Convair B-58 Hustler (Thank you, McHottie, I had no idea.) A little googling tells me that this B-58A set three speed records while flying from Los Angeles to New York and back on March 5, 1962. For this effort, the crew received the Bendix and Mackay Trophies for 1962. It was flown to the museum in December 1969.
I love google.
Our time was up. The museum closes at four on Saturdays, and we still wanted to hit the gift shop on the way out. We weren't going to be able to hit the Missile and Space Gallery, the R&D and Presidential Hangars were already out (bummer, I love walking through those old Air Force One's...) and the Air Park was out because of the weather.
Still, I'd say that we saw most of what we wanted to see. It was a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon, even with the thousand or so Boy Scouts zipping around. They were very well behaved for the most part.
Thank you, McHottie for playing tour guide. Your insane knowledge of shooty things and aircraft made the experience that much better.
Thank you to my Brother and Sister In Law for providing the vehicle we all piled in to. To my brother, who got to feel my knees in his back for three hours, I'm only a little sorry. :)