SAN DIEGO AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM: The current museum opened it's doors on the 28th June, 1980, this following a disastrous fire that destroyed the earlier premises and many exhibits. The museum has dedicated sections covering unique categories of flight including the Main Entry, Gift Shop and Spirit of St. Louis Display, the Science of Aliens Special Exhibition (open during my tour), the World War 1 Gallery, the Golden Age of Flight Gallery, the World War 2 Gallery, the Modern Jet and Space Age Gallery and the Pavilion of Flight Gallery.
I have recorded various exhibits from most sections of the Museum with brief descriptions taken from data provided by the Museum.
FRONT OF MUSEUM: It is not possible to miss the imposing Museum Entrance, guarded by a Convair YF2Y-1 Sea Dart and a Lockheed A-12 Blackbird.
WRIGHT EX Vin Fiz: A 'reproduction' of the Wright Vin Fiz Flyer, the original aircraft was an early Wright Brothers Model EX 'Pusher Biplane'. The aircraft was the first to cross the North American continent. The attempt to cross America commenced from Sheepshead Bay, New York on the 17th September 1911 and the pilot Calbraith Perry Rodgers had some experience, albeit limited, 90 minutes of instruction by Orville Wright!
Rodgers endured numerous crashes, significant injuries and ultimately completed the crossing on the 10th December 1911, landing at Long Beach, California where he promptly taxied the aircraft into the Pacific Ocean, having completed a total distance of 6,400km. Delays, personal injuries and setbacks resulted in Rodgers missing the prize deadline for the flight, (William Randolph Hurst had offered US$50,000.00 for the first aviator to fly coast to coast, in either direction in less than thirty days). Soon after the record attempt Rodgers was killed in an air crash on the US Pacific coast.
CHARLES LINDBERGH & THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS: Appropriately located directly facing the main entry doors, a likeness and bust of Charles Lindbergh and a replica of the NYP-3 Spirit of St. Louis aircraft serve to reaffirm Lindbergh's place in aviation history.
CHARLES AUGUSTUS LINDBERGH: 'The Lone Eagle' was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA on the 4th February 1902. He learned to fly in 1922 and became an Air Mail Pilot before his historic flight across the Atlantic Ocean. On the 20~21st May 1927 he won the US $25,000.00 Orteig Prize for being the first person to fly non-stop from New York to Paris. His flight plan included taking off from Long Island's Roosevelt Field, landing in Paris thirty three and a half hours later, having covered 3,600 miles. In subsequent years Lindbergh worked as a technical advisor to airlines and aircraft manufacturers. He flew several combat missions in World War 2, developing techniques that extended the versatility and capabilities of American aircraft. Tragedy struck the Lindbergh family following the abduction and murder of their young son in March 1932, Charles Lindbergh died in 1974.
NYP-3 SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS: The only flight certified replica of the original Spirit of St. Louis, it was built by volunteers of the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the team included three of the builders of the original aircraft, Messrs T. Claude Ryan, H. Ed Morrow and John Van Der Linde. The replica is almost identical to the original with some safety considerations including a reduction in fuel tank capacity from Lindbergh's four hundred and fifty gallon tank capacity to a fifty gallon capacity, brakes were fitted to the wheels and in lieu of Lindbergh's cotton fabric covered aircraft a man made ceconite fabric was used.
On the 21st May 1979, exactly fifty two years after the completion of Charles Lindbergh's historic solo trans-atlantic flight, the then newly completed NYP-3 replica took off from Lindbergh Field. It was flown by T. Claude Ryan's former chief test pilot Ray Cote. After seven flights, accruing two hours and forty one minutes total flight time, the aircraft was placed on exhibit at the Museum for over 23 years.
In the spring of 2003, NYP-3 was moved from the Museum to Gillespie Field for inspection and maintenance works to achieve re-certification for flight. Following two short test flights at Gillespie Field, pilot Roger Baker flew the aircraft to Lindbergh Field on the 16th August, 2003, in commemoration of the Airport's 75th anniversary. NYP-3 underwent a thorough restoration in the years 2003~2006, the restoration was undertaken mainly by Museum volunteers at Gillespie Field, works included recovering the entire aircraft in new fabric. The aircraft is now on exhibition at the Museum.
WORLD WAR 1 - GALLERY: A display of rudimentary flying machines that exposed pilots to the perils of aerial combat for the first time.
SOPWITH PUP: Thirty three of the Museum's volunteers created this masterpiece 'uncovered' Sopwith Pup in the year's 2000~2003. Leaving the aircraft 'uncovered' allows the viewer to appreciate the incredible amount of workmanship that went into creating an early biplane.
FOKKER Dr 1:
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