Monday, October 26, 2015

Scott And Carol Present - A Look at the Major Expansion at the National Museum of the United States Air Force

Scale models were used to plan the layout of the aircraft, and planning started for how the stories would be told. Moving these parts of the collection to the main building will result in a tenfold increase of visitor interaction with these priceless historical aircraft.

Digital 3-d models were incorporated into the building phase to accommodate some special requirements for specific aircraft.

These roof panels are one continuous piece that stretches across the entire span. This results in a more durable roof that won't leak. The sheets were formed as they were pushed over the top of the spans.

The pyramid looking concrete base plates are connected by cables under the floor, which varies from twenty-two inches to eight inches thick, based on the weight of the aircraft planned for that space. There is five acres of floor space in the new building.

Through these over one hundred-fifty foot wide and more than forty feet tall doors the Research and Development aircraft along with the Presidential fleet will be more accessible to museum visitors that ever before. Lieutenant General (Ret.) Jack Hudson is excited to see it happening.

The first plane to enter the new building was X-15A-2, which last flew on 10/3/1967. So almost 48 years to the day, it has a new mission, paying tribute to the thousands of people who were involved in the project that set speed and altitude records, while proving that non-powered landings remained practical. This research was pivotal groundwork utilized by the Space Shuttle Program. 

Major General (Ret.) Joe Engle is the last surviving X-15 pilot. He had sixteen flights in an X-15, none in this one. He also performed the drop tests with space shuttle Intrepid, and flew two orbital space shuttle missions.

Our thanks to Rob, Sarah, Brian, and Jack for their assistance, and patience with this story. Special thanks to Joe Engle, one of the dozen X-15 pilots whose exploits were faithfully reported in the Weekly Science Reader, delivered to classrooms in Fort Wayne, IN, along with other schools nationwide. We could hardly wait for the next week's copy, to see what record would fall next.