Surprisingly, it’s not just about Ford at The Henry Ford. Meet the Fokker.
I recently found myself in Detroit for three days thanks to one of Spirit Airlines’ ridiculous airfare sales combined with my favorite Spirit tip: Actually going to the airport to buy tickets. At $38.41 round trip, how could we resist? While I can honestly say DTW was not anywhere near the top of my to-do list, I go where the sales are. All literature regarding tourism in Detroit pointed to one definite venue: The Henry Ford. I knew Ford was influential in many early forms of transportation besides the obvious one, so I gave it a shot. For AvGeek appeal I expected an exhibit on the Tri-Motor. What we got was so much more.
Memorabilia overload awesomeness in the main room of the TWA Museum
Kansas City is indisputably a TWA town. Most don’t know that the airline can trace its roots back to KC. Additionally, one of its two former KC-based headquarters is, in fact, now home to the one and only TWA Museum. It’s here at 10 Richards Road in Kansas City that Howard Hughes once officed, and where the airline witnessed explosive growth as passenger aviation quite literally took off.
Before we get too far, I must concede, TWA had nearly vanished from the skies by the time I was really getting excited about commercial aviation. And for that reason, unlike many of my local aviation pals, I don’t have the same fondness and sparkle in my eye when I talk about the airline. Still, I fancy myself a bit of an AvGeek historian and as such do my best to understand the excitement of others for this once-great airline.
The TWA Museum had been established a handful of years ago, but for some reason I never made the time to visit. I didn’t know exactly what to expect. Thankfully the TWA Museum carried through with the airline’s 1970s slogan: “You’re going to like us.”
A look down one of the “streets” in the outdoor portion of the Pima Air & Space Museum
Tucson, Arizona is home to the University of Arizona and also Raytheon Missile systems. Those two companies, along with the US Air Force, form the largest three employers in the city. However, Tucson is also home to a unique AvGeek attraction, one that will astound any true aviation fan.
The Pima Air & Space Museum is located about a five-minute drive from Tucson airport and on the boundaries of Davis Montham Air Force Base. The museum is the largest privately funded aviation museum in the world, yes’¦ the world.
The TAM Museum has quite the impressive collection. You can go into the TAM Fokker 100.
When I was invited to check out the Museu TAM (aka the TAM Museum, Museu Asas de um Sonho, or the Wings of a Dream Museum), of course I was excited. I was expecting to check out a facility that told the history of TAM Airlines and was mostly focused only the airline. I was surprised to find out that there were parts of the museum that focused on TAM, but really there was also a broader look at Brazilian aviation and aviation in general.
You can see the TAM MRO behind the museum
If you are a fan of airlines, military aircraft, or old war birds, you will find something of interest. Of course, if you like all those different things, then this is the place for you. The best part — it is open to the public to check out!
Current and retired Delta employees line up in their native uniform
A crowd gathered before a beautifully restored 767 inside a climate-controlled hangar on the outskirts of Delta’s corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Attendees included executives, local and regional politicians, select employees, media and various VIPs. There was a marked excitement in the air. The facility had been closed to the public and shrouded in secrecy for six months, so all were excited to explore the newly renovated Delta Flight Museum.
The unveiling of the museum, which had been personally overseen by Delta CEO Richard Anderson, was timed to coincide with Delta’s 85th anniversary of passenger operations. After opening remarks by Anderson, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, attendees were treated to a short video illustrating Delta’s history. Following the movie and a short awards ceremony attendees were invited to enjoy the festivities and have a look around the multi-room, multi-level facility.
The museum occupies the same footprint as Delta’s original maintenance hangars which were established in the 1940s.
Delta Flight Museum Exterior
Visitors are assured they have indeed arrived at the right place when driving by a 757-200 restored in the “Classic Widget” livery. For extra assurance a DC-9-50 in the modern “2007 Widget” livery that sits just across the way.
BONUS: Learn more about the Delta 757-200 and DC-9 at the museum
The exterior of the facility is undeniably Delta: Bright euro-white with large block letter titling: Delta Air Lines’¦ (Air Lines; two words — they’re sensitive about that). Delta widgets adorn the pavement, the building and are strategically incorporated within the museum’s design inside and out, allowing for a sort of AvGeek easter egg hunt for those looking for a challenge.