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The Udvar-Hazy Center in Reston, VA

Discussion in 'WWII Today' started by Erich Hartmann, Mar 15, 2005.

  1. Erich Hartmann

    Erich Hartmann Member

    Sep 13, 2000
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    One can do all the research, reading about, and looking at pictures, but seeing something up close for the first time simply cannot be beat. This certainly applied at the Smithsonian’s new Udvar-Hazy Center in Reston, VA. I was in town a ways back for work-related business, and was booked at a hotel located about 2 miles from it – just by dumb chance.

    Of course I realized this as soon as I checked into the hotel, and asked the front desk clerk when the Museum closed. “About 5:30” he quipped. I looked at my watch. It read 3:58.

    I took a go at it.

    It was dark, freezing cold and thunder storming when the shuttle bus pulled up to what looked like a giant aircraft hangar secluded in the middle of a cleared-out forest. I was one of the last people of the day to enter, and it was quieter than a library inside. You literally could hear a pin drop(!) My first order of business was to track down the Enola Gay. This was a relatively easy task, as the distinct encircled “A” of the B-29’s tail stuck out from a mangle of smaller aircraft. It was good to finally view it in one piece since the last time I saw it’s fuselage almost ten years before. Oddly, it was propped up on three hydraulic lifts, which pushed it off the ground a further ten feet or so. Maybe this was to get the plane closer to a nearby catwalk so onlookers could get a better view of the lit up cockpit. A couple behind me speculated that it was a safeguard against anti-nuke protesters (someone actually DID attack the thing and threw something at Enola Gay on opening day). One could only speculate…………

    A pleasant surprise was the German Arado Ar-234 jet bomber on display. Again, its so spooky to finally see the legendary aircraft in the flesh after building so many models of them as a kid. The jet was a bit smaller than I always envisioned with a swastika predominantly painted on its high tail. A Smithsonian tour guide stopped his final group a few feet away. Unable to recall the exact details (because he spoke too quietly), he proceeded to rattle off all kinds of interesting facts about the German-made machine. I also spotted some electric/hydraulic fittings inside the clear nose panel – some of which were the SAME parts used in my Porsche I drove to DC in made over 40 years later(!!!)

    Soon afterwards, security guards shut several lights off in the building. I just couldn’t get over the size of the giant museum. I’m sure a pro golfer would have a hard time hitting a ball from one side to the other. If you haven’t been there already, I strongly recommend all aviation……or WW2 buffs for that matter……….to visit the museum. If only I had more time to kill there………

  2. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    May 13, 2001
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    so Herr Hartmann, did you by chance have your camera with you ? If not I demote you to Unteroffizier ! :D

    would love some pics of that Ar 234 babe'

    Erich ♪
  3. markie_red

    markie_red recruit

    Jan 10, 2008
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    Made it to the Udvar-Hazy Center last week on a Virginia vacation.
    Got to see the "Enola Gay" up close. It was amazing. The B-29 was actually smaller than I had imagined. And yes you could get to within a few feet of the nose bubble. Spectators are kept at bay by a sheet of plexiglass. If it were not there, then you could actually touch the plane, something the museum probably does not want you to do. I took a lot of pictures with the digital camera, but without the flash many came out blurry. Here's a shot also of the AR-234 that I took. Many neat planes of all vintages. I suggest all WWII and airplane buffs to visit when in the area.


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  4. Phantom of the Ruhr

    Phantom of the Ruhr Member

    May 13, 2008
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    Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
    I visited the center in June 2004. I spent almost the whole day there. Amazing place.

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