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Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

January 24, 2013

The Smithsonian Institute actually has two air and space museums, so if you enjoy that sort of thing, you will love DC! One is on the Mall, with many of the other Smithsonian museums, but the other is out by Dulles Airport. I recently visited the latter at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. It is easy to get there, and free admission, it would have been easy for us to get through the security bag check, had there not been a woman with three suitcases trying to get through. I think she must had come from the airport or was going to the airport, but I saw her trying to drag them around the museum and it didn’t look too fun!

This museum is all about the planes. It is a big hanger and so they pack as many planes as they can in. This I found to be a good and a bad thing. The good thing about it was that you could see so many different planes, ranging from the 1900s to 2012, which is fantastic to see the changes. There are commercial planes including Concorde and fighter planes from WWII and Vietnam. The museum is on two levels, so you can see the planes from below and above, I like this feature because you can really get a good look at them. But, the planes can get boring, especially for someone like me who isn’t really into them. So, although I enjoyed the first half an hour, the next hour walking round with my husband who wanted to take photos was a little tedious. Having said this, the kids who were running around seemed to love it.

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There are a couple of other things you can do while you are there. There is the Imax, showing a couple of films, I think at the moment you can even see the Hobbit there. There are also some interactive things for children and adults to be getting on with. While we were there, there was a real but small plane, children could queue up and have a turn in the pilot’s seat. There were also some simulators, where you could go up into space (that one was not for me though).

There is a restoration hanger on one side of the museum, in here you can see, through the glass, planes that have arrived at the museum and are being restored so they can be put on display. If you have a technical mind, this hanger is definitely for you.

The one other big let down for me were the options for lunch; it was either McDonalds or McDonalds! So beware if you can’t stand their burgers.

The big pull to this museum has to be the space shuttle Discovery, I don’t know if you saw but it was transported there on top of a plane, the pictures were quite incredible. In the space hanger there is a lot to see other than the highly impressive Discovery, many things to do with space that can keep you entertained. What surprised me was the sheer size of the Discovery, it really is impressive when looking up at it or walking up the stairs and looking down onto it. I still cannot believe that it managed to go up into space!

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If you want an afternoon out, then you should go, if you love planes then it’ll be interesting for you, but if you don’t, looking at some of the planes is quite fascinating…for a while!

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