Monday, January 11, 2010

Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson, AZ

Yesterday, we took a ride to see the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, which opened in 1976. The size and diversity of this museum is second only to the Smithsonian. It has over 300 aircraft on display, both in hangers and outside. We were greeted by a friendly staff who told us we were in luck because yesterday and today the museum had a special exhibit called 'NASA Driven to Explore', and one of the exhibits was the moon rock exhibit where we could touch a 3 billion year old moon rock! In addition, astronaut Mark Kelly gave a presentation, using video of his last trip to the International Space Station as Commander of the Discovery Space Shuttle in June 2008. It was a fascinating presentation, and the video showed the inside of the space shuttle, the space station, as well as the crew and their daily tasks. As a side note, about a week ago I saw on the news that the International Space Station could be seen that night at 6:55. We were having dinner at Frank and Bonnie's so I set the alarm on my cell phone. Sure enough, at 6:55 we were standing outside under a perfectly clear sky, and saw the space station fly by overhead. As excited as I had been at that moment, Mr. Kelly's speech made it even more exciting! He will be commanding his last space shuttle flight on the Endeavor in July 2010. This flight will be the last space shuttle flight in the program. NASA is working on another shuttle program whose ships will possibly travel to the moon and Mars. It will take at least 6 years to complete the first space shuttle in this new program. Mr. Kelly has a twin brother who is also an astronaut and might possibly be on the International Space Station when Mr. Kelly arrives in July.


After his speech, and after exploring many of the hangers, we took a guided tram around the grounds to see the aircraft that the museum had obtained and restored over the years. We could've walked around the grounds by ourselves...there were signs describing each aircraft, bht the tram ride was a much better choice. It was at least one hour long and the guide was exceptional! He had graduated from Annapolis and had been a pilot himself...he had an amazing knowledge of every plane on the museum grounds. Included in the aircraft was JFK's Airforce One, which also carried President Johnson and President Nixon. We learned what distinguished the Airforce One aircraft from the others....Airforce One has a blue line painted above the gray painted base. Other aircraft included Migs, Hueys, Fighter Jets, the Kitty Hawk, as well as a few German aircraft. I'm not doing the museum justice, so here's the website: http://pimaair.org/index.php.


Tomorrow we will be visiting the Biosphere 2...this will be our last visit in the Benson area. Thursday we will be heading for Phoenix for 2 nights to visit an old friend of Ed's and then on to Quartzsite AZ on Saturday.

More blog tomorrow!

2 comments:

scott davidson said...

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Rena and Ed said...

Thanks Scott! That's a great website!