March 20, 2014- Once Aram and the ship had departed, I had a game plan for the rest of the day. First and foremost, I replaced the low beam headlight bulb, on the passenger’s side of my Kia. Next, was a stop at Old Town San Diego, where I hope to restock my stash of exotic jerky. It must be only a seasonal thing, as only ordinary jerky was available at the General Store. I did sit for a few minutes, though, and watch three actors in a theater troupe rehearse a scene from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
This is one of my favourite whimsical plays, but after a few minutes, the troupe started discussing their craft, so I decided to head for Balboa Park. One place I had never visited there is the San Diego Air and Space Museum, which presents as complete a picture of manned flight as any place west of the Mississippi. It is one of two museums there that were initiated by the industrialist and aviator, Ruben H. Fleet, whose name adorns the Science Center nearby.
I spent about 2 1/2 hours in this unique institution, absorbing what I could of the story of one of Man’s greatest dreams come true- from the sketches of Leonardo da Vinci to the most recent G-force experiments. This museum presents the story of flight in objective fashion- including the achievements of America’s friends and enemies alike.
Among the first replicas one encounters is that of The Spirit of St. Louis, just inside the entry way.
Close by Lindbergh’s epic plane is a replica of an Apollo spacecraft.
There is,as the sign suggests, a display called Ripley’s Believe It or Not, but it was enough for me to take in the main exhibits.
The combat exhibits are comprehensive, with Messerschmitts and Zeros taking their places alongside Allied warplanes. One of the first exhibits tells the story of General Claire Chennault’s Flying Tigers, who impeded the Japanese occupation of south China and Burma, probably shortening World War II.
Yet, World War I, and the exploits of all concerned, were fully covered as well. Here is a shot of the first synchronized gear mechanism on a fighter plane.
Here is a replica of Manfred von Richtofen’s Red Fokker Dr. 1 Triplane.
A Sopwith Camel is shown in the same area of the facility.
In the Forties section are a Piper Cub
and a Messerschmitt Bf 109G-14
In the Edwin D. McKellar Pavilion of Flight,
a full range of air and space craft is shown.
Just before I exited, a father and son were inside a Zero Gravity simulation machine, experiencing astronaut life, in a safe manner.
There is no doubt in my mind that this amazing collection will continue to grow, as our treasury of air and space craft continues to evolve.
After taking in this dizzying collection of vehicles, I was ready for some peace and calm, so the Japanese-American Friendship Garden beckoned.