Bristol Docks are the home of the SS Great Britain. The first iron hulled ship with screw propulsion, the Great Britain ended up in Port Stanley. It was rescued in the 80s and brought to Bristol where it was restored over many years. Now it is in something like its original condition. It was not open to the public on the day we were there but it was visible from the opposite side of the docks as we walked down and then, as we came back up the other side, I could get a quick glimpse through the fence.
I have subscribed to Flight International for a very long time. I used to have it ordered with my local newsagent in Cowes when I was in high school, I got it ordered by Smiths in Kensington High Street when I was a student and, when I had a job after graduation, I finally got a proper subscription set up. That has continued ever since but, these days, Flight has become a digital only subscription for me. Still, I have continued it all these years despite having left the industry long ago. It does provide me with information on unusual test programs and that includes the Lockheed Martin X-55 Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft (ACCA).
This was a demonstrator program for a new composite fuselage construction. The baseline aircraft was a Dornier 328Jet but it had its fuselage replaced by a composite one that LM built using advanced techniques and with a far shorter lead time. As a demonstrator, things did not go quite as smoothly as they might have but that is why you do programs such as this. It was never intended to be a production jet. It was to show what could be done with the technology if required. The jet was flown for a number of tests but I think building it was the bigger part of the program.
Once testing was complete, the airframe became part of the collection at the Joe Davies Airpark in Palmdale. When I saw it was there, I was very interested to see it. I suspect, for a lot of the visitors to the Airpark, it is one of the less interesting aircraft on display. The signs explain what it is all about but that is probably of little interest to many visitors. For a geek like me, though, it was probably one of the most interesting aircraft in the collection. Sure, the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is special but there are two of those. This aircraft is unique. Having read about it long ago, seeing it in person is special. (If I ever get to see the Boeing 360 helicopter demonstrator, this will be the same thing.)
The Boscombe collection has a couple of interesting testbed airframes. The Avro 707 was in a previous post but another fine jet is the English Electric P1A. The precursor to what was to become the Lightning, the P1A is very similar in some respects but quite different in others. The nose is a pitot inlet without the shock cone that the Lightning adopted to house its radar. The rest of the front fuselage has quite a different shape while it also feels lower to the ground than the Lightning was. It is nice that a Lightning front fuselage is displayed alongside it for comparison.
When Llanbedr was the home for a bunch of drones, it also had some old airframes used to support the drone operations. The Sea Vixen was one of the more famous jets saved from that program but the Boscombe collection has a drone support Meteor. The red and yellow paint scheme is not subtle but it looks good, particularly in the dark hangar at Old Sarum where the collection lives. I can’t claim to love the Meatbox but I do find it an interesting jet and seeing one in such good condition is a treat.
In 2015, I made a trip to Madras Oregon for an air-to-air photography course. Based at the Erickson museum, we had an interesting few days discussing the approach to air to air photography as well as the chance to get some shots while airborne. I had a good look around the museum while I was there as well but I was looking forward to a chance to check it out again when we headed south through Oregon. Madras was on our route from Hood River to Klamath Falls so it was a definite stop.
We didn’t have a huge amount of time available to spend at the museum but we had enough to get a reasonable look around. They were busy preparing aircraft since they were taking a few planes to the show at Klamath Falls that we were going to see. As a result, some of the planes were either out on the ramp or at the front of the hangar being prepped for their ferry south.
There seemed to be more planes than I remembered from my previous trip and things were definitely squeezed in. Of course, it might just be my memory not being up to par. The more unusual types like the Bellanca or the Mauler are always worth a look but everything in the collection looks great.
The Oregon trip with Mark provided a lot of options for additional aviation experiences while we were en route to the main event in Klamath Falls. This included a stop off at Hood River to check out the museum there. I had heard that it was an impressive collection of both planes and cars and that was no understatement. When it comes to older aircraft, I am well out of my depth. My interest in aviation came out of the military side of things in the 80s and the era of WWII and before was not something I paid any attention to.
The result of this is that a museum like Hood River is full of aircraft that I know nothing about. I couldn’t identify many of them if asked and, when there are many variants of a given make, I don’t recognize what distinguishes them and whether one or other of them is significantly rarer than any other. Instead, I just find it interesting to look at the wide variety of looks and finishes that the planes have.
The Hood River museum certainly provides me plenty to choose from in that regard. There are so many aircraft in there and, while they have several hangars, it is not unfair to say that things are pretty on top of each other in order to get everything to fit in. It is also a little dark but, since modern cameras are so good in low light conditions, this isn’t really a problem anymore.
Mark and I are both plane guys so the car collection was not a big focus for us. We did take a look at to some of the vehicles that were there but, since we had a schedule to keep if we were to get to Klamath Falls in time for some dinner, we had to focus on the planes. There is no way I could cover the collection in one blog post and I won’t even try. Instead, I shall provide a tiny selection of what we saw. Maybe, as I work through some of the shots, I shall revisit the collection in some future posts.
I can’t recall what prompted all of this but I found myself searching through my photos to see if I had any pictures of Avro Canada CF-100 Canucks. I knew I had seen one at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford but had I seen any others? I had been looking at the Wikipedia article on them as part of this theme and had seen where the remaining examples are. Turns out I had also seen one in Castle AFB museum. It’s a curious looking type but here are some shots including the IWM example from thirty years ago as well as last year.
Here are some old Japanese rail vehicles. These are part of the SCMaglev museum in Nagoya that I visited when I was in Japan last summer. The museum has a great selection of Shinkansen equipment across the generations but it also has a lot of other rail vehicles from long ago. The vehicles clearly look old from the outside but the interiors are really an interesting comparison with what you see these days. The amount of wood in the paneling and the materials of the seating are definitely of their time. I was quite amused by the fans mounted on the ceiling. Obviously pre-air conditioning days with these cars and so a bit of air circulation was all you could hope for. Knowing how incredibly hot it gets in Japan during the summer, they would not have done much for the riders I would have thought. I wonder whether it was as crowded in those days as it is now. If it was even close, that would have been brutal.
Well over 10 years ago, I was invited by a rail vehicle manufacturer to an industry event that they were holding to promote one of their vehicles. It was held at the TTCI test facility outside Pueblo in Colorado. Pueblo also has an aviation museum so it was inconceivable that I would go all that way and not check it out while I was there.
Most of the exhibits are outside in some pretty harsh sun so they are rather sun-bleached. There is an interesting mix of old types on display while a few are indoors and look in better condition. Helicopters and vintage fighters are always going to be good for me so hopefully there is something in here you like.
Edwards AFB has been the home to an amazing range of interesting aircraft types. Many of them have found their way to prominent museums around the country given the significance of what they achieved. Others never found interest and got disposed of. Some never lasted long enough to be preserved given the hazardous nature of what they did. However, there was a storage program for the rest and Edwards has a museum of some of these preserved airframes.
I haven’t been to Edwards for a long time so I don’t know what the current situation is with the collection but I did get to check it out on a previous visit. The collection was mainly front line types that had been used for testing purposes. (This is the USAF side of things rather than the NASA collection.) There are some types there that I didn’t see which I would like to have done like the YA-7F. However, there was a test A-7D with an air data boom. Here are some of the shots I got that day. I also shot a couple of other jets that were away from the rest but these were only with my phone and phone quality in those days was not what it is now.