The United States of America has a checkered history. At the center of the rich country are its historical military conquests which shaped the position of the country as a global superpower. In addition, the country’s history and its position globally have been shaped by its forays into space with a view of developing a reliable database on the various aspects of the universe. Therefore, it is thoroughly befitting that a museum solely dedicated to document the historical evolution of the country’s air and space endeavors was established in 1963. The museum not only has historical real-life sized aircrafts, it also houses unique and rare collections including a replica of the first aircraft ever made: The Wright Brothers Glider developed in 1902 and it much improved predecessor, Vin Fiz Flyer. The museum is also home to a huge stash of film and audio documenting the country’s air and space history.
Upon entering the gates to the Balboa Park where the San Diego and Space Museum, one is first confounded by a feeling of walking right through the door of history. One is welcomed by the majestic sight of perhaps two of the country’s most important and landmark aircrafts of their generations: the world renowned LockheedA-12 Blackbird and F2Y Sea Dart hanging menacingly and precariously each on either side of the main museum entrance. The Sea Dart marked the quest towards developing a seaplane and indeed aircrafts that would later surpass the sound speed barrier. While it was never released for use, looking at the sea plane one is confounded by the technological commitment of the country’s military complex. The Lockheed was one of plane designs that pioneered the modern day reconnaissance.
The museum entrance: Sea Dart (Left) and Lockheed (Right)
The dedication with which the museum curators have preserved the numerous aircrafts that shaped the country’s military history and indeed the global community is an indication of how important the museum is in preserving the rich history of aircraft development. However, such documentation would be fruitless without a specimen of the first aircraft successfully developed by man: The Wright Glider and the Vin Fiz Flyer which was the first plane to fly the longest distance. Looking at these first aircrafts and comparing them with the modern highly sophisticated ones, one is spellbound by the ingenuity of the first engineers who successfully conjured up the idea that such a heavy mass of metal could fly. The museum also has a huge catalogue of aircraft images of up to over 2 million. The catalogue also includes important figures, locations and equipment that played a vital role in the evolution of aircraft and space exploration. The museum also has a special section reserved for unique collections such as the iconic Super Marine Spitfire Mk. XVI and Apollo IX Command Module.
Apollo IX Command Module Super marine Spitfire Mk. XVI
In conclusion, the US has a rich history when it comes to aircraft development and space exploration. The San Diego Air and Space Museum offers visitors a unique opportunity to relive this history. It allows visitors to grasp the evolutionary changes that most of the modern day aircrafts and equipment have undergone. The rich history documented at the museum is confounding and transforming. It liberates the inquisitive mind and quenches the thirst for knowledge that is inherent when one steps through its gates.