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  Grand space museum tour of the Midwest

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Author Topic:   Grand space museum tour of the Midwest
sev8n
Member

Posts: 55
From: Dallas TX USA
Registered: Jul 2012

posted 08-16-2012 03:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sev8n     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm planning a road trip to see several space-related museums, I'd appreciate any tips/recommendations on what to see or skip, and any hotels to stay at or avoid.
  • Day 1 - Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City to see Gemimi VI, then to the Science Museum of Oklahoma (Kirkpatrick Air and Space) to see their Mercury and Apollo simulators and F1 engine.

    (overnight in Hutchinson KS)

  • Day 2 - Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center to see Liberty Bell 7, Gemini X, Apollo 13 and a ton of other stuff.

    (overnight somewhere east of Topeka KS)

  • Day 3 (driving)

    (overnight in Chicago IL)

  • Day 4 - Adler Planetarium in Chicago to see Gemini XII, then over to the Museum of Science and Industry to see Aurora 7 and Apollo 8.

    (overnight in/near Wapekoneta OH)

  • Day 5 - Armstrong Museum in Wapakoneta to see Gemini VII, then down to the Air Force Museum in Dayton to see X-15A-2, Apollo 15 and a ton of other stuff.

    (staying with friends)

  • Days 6 & 7 - Trans Am Nationals in Dayton (I'm also an old-school Pontiac nut)

  • Day 8 (driving)

    (overnight in/near Huntsville AL)

  • Day 9 - US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville to see Apollo 16, the Saturn V (x2) and a ton of other stuff.

    (overnight somewhere between Huntsville & Memphis TN)

  • Day 10 (driving)

    Day 11 - Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas TX to see Apollo 7.

This will check off everything from my "been there done that" list of U.S. manned space flight with the exceptions of Freedom 7, Gemini III, Apollo 10, the ASTP CM and one of the three Skylab CMs.

Any thoughts/suggestions appreciated.

BMckay
Member

Posts: 1906
From: MA, USA
Registered: Sep 2002

posted 08-16-2012 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMckay   Click Here to Email BMckay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have you been to Stafford Air and Space yet in Weatherford Oklahoma?

Spaceguy5
Member

Posts: 400
From: Pampa, TX, US
Registered: May 2011

posted 08-16-2012 03:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If you pass through or near Amarillo, the Texas Air & Space Museum (near the Rick Husband International Airport) has a Shuttle Training Aircraft on display. If you ask nicely enough, the museum staff may even let you walk around inside of it. The actual airport also has a life-size bronze statue of Rick Husband in his launch and entry suit.

The STA is the only space-related item that the museum currently has, although I'm planning on loaning some of my space shuttle hardware (and other things) in the next few months.

Also as Bryan mentioned, the Stafford museum is a must-see.

sev8n
Member

Posts: 55
From: Dallas TX USA
Registered: Jul 2012

posted 08-16-2012 03:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sev8n     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BMckay:
Have you been to Stafford Air and Space yet in Weatherford Oklahoma?
No I haven't but may on a future trip. I'm focusing on seeing as many manned capsules as I can on this trip.

GACspaceguy
Member

Posts: 1394
From: Guyton, GA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 08-16-2012 06:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My wife and I have done that trip except we started in Savannah GA, KSC, Pensacola, Stennis, Michoud, Houston and Dallas (did not do the Trans Am part but sounds cool). From Huntsville we went back to Savannah. We did do the trip over to Weatherford Oklahoma and Stafford museum, it was well worth the side trip as it has a ton of interesting artifacts. (we had planned on a half hour there and stayed 3 hours when we got there.

I can suggest that you leave Dayton and swing over into Mitchell, Indiana for the Gus Grissom museum and home of Gemini 3, then onto Huntsville. It is a small museum but well worth the extra two hours of driving and 90 miles. You can do the museum in less than an hour and the memorial park as well. Here is the web site that describes it well, except the pictures are old as they have remodeled the museum since then.

SpaceAholic
Member

Posts: 3023
From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 08-16-2012 06:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Recommend Pensacola (where I am currently hanging my hat for the next several weeks) to see the heavily graffitied CSM 116/Skylab 2 CSM.

dtemple
Member

Posts: 605
From: Longview, Texas, USA
Registered: Apr 2000

posted 08-16-2012 07:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dtemple   Click Here to Email dtemple     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Make sure you get to the Armstrong Museum before 5pm as that is when it closes. The outdoor displays were a surprise — didn't know about the Gemini sit-in mockup and the Apollo CM outfitted with an interior. It looks like a block 2 but with more of a block 1 hatch.

If you are at the US Air Force Museum on a Friday you can tour the restoration facility, but you will need to sign up for that tour as early as possible. I recommend a two-day stay to see all exhibits.

There is also a tour of the Presidential/R&D hangers which house retired Air Force One aircraft and various experimental aircraft such as the X-1B, X-3, X-15, XB-70, XF-91, etc.

This tour and the restoration hanger are on the Wright-Patterson AFB and require a shuttle bus ride to get to them.

BMacKinnon
Member

Posts: 134
From: Waterford, MI. USA
Registered: Jul 2007

posted 08-16-2012 08:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMacKinnon   Click Here to Email BMacKinnon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In regards to the AF Museum, the tour of the Presidential and R&D planes, you will want to sign up for those in the morning for they usually fill up before noon for the entire day.

If you can swing up into Michigan, there is the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. SR71B and XP-55 are two of their featured aircraft. They house the National Guadalcanal Memorial Museum. They also have two space themed exhibits. They even have a Ford Tri-Motor you can take a ride in!

sev8n
Member

Posts: 55
From: Dallas TX USA
Registered: Jul 2012

posted 08-16-2012 08:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sev8n     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GACspaceguy:
I can suggest that you leave Dayton and swing over into Mitchell, Indiana for the Gus Grissom museum and home of Gemini 3, then onto Huntsville.
Thanks, I'll see if I can squeeze that in on my drive to Huntsville.
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
Recommend Pensacola to see the heavily graffitied CSM 116/Skylab 2 CSM.
I visited Pensacola a few years ago, although those photos are on film (pre-digital).
quote:
Originally posted by dtemple:
Make sure you get to the Armstrong Museum before 5pm as that is when it closes.
I plan to be there when the doors open!
quote:
Originally posted by dtemple:
If you are at the US Air Force Museum ... I recommend a two-day stay to see all exhibits.
I've been to the museum several times in the past, but I can't NOT go again when I'm in town.
quote:
Originally posted by dtemple:
XB-70...
Many years ago I was allowed 'behind the fence' to photograph the XB-70 immediately after it was repainted and just before they moved it indoors. It was a rare opportunity and a unique experience.

sev8n
Member

Posts: 55
From: Dallas TX USA
Registered: Jul 2012

posted 08-16-2012 09:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for sev8n     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by sev8n:
Many years ago I was allowed 'behind the fence' to photograph the XB-70 immediately after it was repainted and just before they moved it indoors.

I found a few old low-resolution scans from slides, here are links:

XB-70
XB-70
XB-70

Now back to the tour thread.

kr4mula
Member

Posts: 599
From: Cinci, OH
Registered: Mar 2006

posted 08-17-2012 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You'll do yourself a disservice if you try to squeeze in the Armstrong Museum and the AF Museum in the same day. The latter closes at 5, so you'll be lucky to get in a couple of hours there after visiting Wapakoneta, driving down to Dayton, having lunch, etc. Most people would spend a couple of days, especially if you're going to do a tour. Even if you've been there before (as you say), the logistics of seeing what you want in a limited timeframe will be tough. Since you want to see the X-15, you'll have to sign up for the Presidential/R&D Hangar tour, which takes more time (and the last one goes well before closing time).

As a fellow Pontiac F-Body nut (note my user name - I've had my Formula in the TA Nationals a few times), I'd suggest skipping the first morning of the TA Nationals (many cars won't arrive til later anyway and if you're not putting a car in it, you won't miss anything) and instead catch what you missed at the NMUSAF (like the R&D tour that may have been full), and then drive up to Vandalia for the cars. Since the Museum opens at 9, you should only miss a few hours' worth of car stuff. A much better use of your time, in my opinion.

328KF
Member

Posts: 829
From:
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 08-17-2012 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Cosmosphere certainly doesn't look like much as you drive up to it, but there is a full day's worth, if not more, to see in the mostly underground display areas. You might end up running over your time budget there if you really want to take everything in.

Unlike larger museums with larger artifacts, KCC is mostly many small items like tools, equipment, cameras, and suits. There is a lot to read, particularly in the German rocket section. Of course there are the well known spacecraft there too. The Liberty Bell exhibit is something I had a chance to see while it was on tour, and I could have easily spent more time with it.

Others have made the most important point about the Air Force museum. Sign up for the x-plane hangar ASAP.

Oh, and that place is HUGE!

Sounds like a great trip... something I've always wanted to do, but in a light aircraft to cut the travel time down. Many of the museums have small airports nearby.

328KF
Member

Posts: 829
From:
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 08-17-2012 01:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for 328KF   Click Here to Email 328KF     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One other thought on your plans. I happened to be in Dallas on one trip and stopped by the Frontiers of Flight museum only to find it closed for the day for a school group or something.

I would think this is rare, but it might be worth contacting some of the smaller venues in advance to make sure they will be open on the days you plan on arriving.

GACspaceguy
Member

Posts: 1394
From: Guyton, GA
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 08-17-2012 03:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by 328KF:
Frontiers of Flight museum only to find it closed for the day for a school group or something.
Good point, the Cosmosphere closed early on us the first time we went due to a gathering of some sort.

Jay Chladek
Member

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 08-20-2012 04:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sounds like you've got a good trip well in hand, but on your day 3 driving bit, you could potentially add a stop at the Strategic Air and Space Museum in Ashland, NE if you angle north up I-135/81 and link up with I-80 headed east. The museum is midway between Lincoln and Omaha.

As for space attractions there, they have Apollo spacecraft 009, the first Block 1 capsule to fly a suborbital mission on AS-201. There is damage to the heat shield as it was retrofitted for a land landing drop test soon after its mission. But, you can get up close and touch it based on where it sits on the museum floor (alongside both Gemini and Apollo boilerplate capsules). They also have a shuttle flight deck mockup that was once part of the SAIL lab at NASA (it is a bit simplified in spots I admit) and the X-38 CRV drop test ship in its original X-24 configuration (the other X-38 was given a revised shape for its last couple drop tests in preparation for the full size X-38 that was never finished). SASM's X-38 was at Spaceport Houston for several years before the museum got it.

As for aircraft, the museum also has a B-52B, Vulcan bomber, B-36, XP-85 Goblin and plenty of other cool aircraft exhibits onhand. All of them are indoors. If you are strictly into space exhibits, I think you could slip in a decent visit lasting only a couple hours or so to take in all you need (plan for longer though if you are an airplane geek like me though).

Logistically, such a drive north can be a little easier than going straight east on I-70 and then having to head north to Chicago at Mt. Vernon, IL. Traffic around KC and St. Louis can be a bit of a pain compared to Lincoln, Omaha and Des Moines traffic (but if you are used to Dallas traffic, that may be no problem anyway). Plus, since I-80 heads right to Chicago almost, it is practically a straight shot as opposed to having to dogleg a bit on a route further south. The trek east to Chicago from Omaha should go pretty quick. So after Cosmosphere, you could go north to Nebraska, room somewhere overnight (the US 81 and I-80 junction near York, NE has LOTS of motels there), get up in the morning to drive to SASM, take in a couple hours, then drive the remaining 6 to Chicago to overnight there.

All times are CT (US)

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