the National Air and Space Museum
What can I say. The NASM in Washington DC is Mecca for pilots, and I spent all of Monday there. From the Apollo 11 recovery capsule to the X-1 to the carrier bridge mockup (complete with video of launches and traps out the window, making it feel like you’re actually on the bridge) to the simulators to the IMAX… it was all good.
The simulator ride was sensational – they have about a dozen full-motion simulators based on FS2000 where you get to hack flick zoom either an F/A-18 or P51 for 5 minutes or so for $6.50. I was by myself so almost got teamed up with a little boy of about 8 (it’s side-by-side seating) but when the operator asked if I minded being teamed up, I told him “not at all, but I’m going to give this thing a workout”. He thought better of it, luckily as it turned out. Apparently most people get in there, do one or two steep turns, get freaked out by the movement and fly lazy turns for the rest of their time. Not so for me. Straight off the bat I pulled into a vertical snap roll, split S and barrel rolls, followed by an improvised aerobatic routine. It’s a totally different feeling hanging in the straps – it left me feeling more and more strongly about getting a full motion setup. When the guy finally opened it up, there was a small crowd gathered around who had apparently enjoyed watching me fly inverted at 200′ AGL and were taking bets as to whether or not I’d break the simulator with my antics. The attendant said I came close :D
I also got to see Fighter Pilot: Red Flag at the NASM IMAX which was awesome.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED if you’re ever in Washington DC. Screw seeing the White House.
a “spare” lunar lander (yes it’s real, not a mockup)