FedEx Boeing 727 sitting outside of the museum – Photo: Aaron Giddings
Ask most airline travelers what they know of Sioux City, Iowa and, if they’ve heard of it at all, it’s likely for only one of two reasons. The first, that Sioux City was the site of the crash of United Flight 232 in 1989. The second, that the Sioux Gateway Airport has a somewhat unfortunate airport code, particularly if one’s ultimate destination is either Charlotte, North Carolina or Pensacola, Florida. However, there is much more to this sprawling complex than just a notable aviation disaster and an awkward airport designator.
Artifacts at the front of the United Flight 232 section of the museum – Photo: Aaron Giddings, Sr.
Tucked away in the northeastern corner of the airport lies the Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation. AvGeeks will likely first notice the retired FedEx 727 parked outside the museum’s main building, or perhaps the EA-6A standing guard near the gate as visitors pull into a parking lot carved from a portion of the airport’s 1930’s era runways. Inside the main building, a bright yellow Monnett Moni motorglider hangs from the ceiling and presides over the gift shop, which sells a variety of aviation items, including “Fly SUX” shirts and hats.
Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird – Photo: American Air Museum | IWM Duxford
Recently, I was delighted to get an invite to the Imperial War Museum’s (IWM) inaugural re-opening of its American Air Museum (AAM) at Duxford in Cambridgeshire. The AAM opened to the public on Saturday 19 March 2016, after being closed for 12 months for major redevelopment work. I had the opportunity to get a sneak preview and to talk to some honorary guests, whose legacies form part of the new exhibition. A midweek event meant my trusty photographing sidekick of a son could not join me due to school. Given half a chance, he would probably have skipped to come with me.
Packed flight plan – Photo: Alastair Long | AirlineReporter
The AAM is housed in a concrete semi-conical building with a glass front that faces the airfield and, as you can see from the AAM’s floor plan above, it’s packed full of aircraft that showcase some of the very best in US historical aviation.
View of the Udvar-Hazy Center – Photo: David Delagarza | AirlineReporter
Everyone has heard of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington DC (at least if you read this site, you likely have). The museum’s main location, prominently located on the National Mall, has long been a favorite stop for tourists exploring the nation’s capitol. Less well-known, however, is the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center located 25 miles to the west, adjacent to Dulles International Airport (IAD). I recently took the opportunity to spend a few hours before a flight exploring this amazing facility, and I was not disappointed.
The museum, which opened in 2003, consists of two massive hangars housing over 3,000 aircraft, spacecraft, and other historical items. All told, there is nearly 300,000 square-feet of floor space in the museum. The collection includes the space shuttle Discovery, an SR-71, an Air France Concorde, and the B-29 bomber Enola Gay among many other fascinating pieces.