Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Night at the Air Force Museum"

This past Friday we braved the crowds and got to enjoy the first annual "Night at the Air Force Museum" hosted by, well, the Air Force Museum here by the base. They timed it to take place right before "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian" opens in theaters.

(the girls eating candy we were "bombed" with passing through the Russian exhibit)

There had to have been at least a couple thousand people there, but it was really managed pretty well. We were given a "map" of the huge museum (3 full-size airplane hangars connected, plus an IMAX theatre).

(Gregory was THRILLED to pose with his FAVORITE plane, the B-2)

The theme was centered on aliens roaming the museum, trying to find their space ship. The museum has a "spaceship" on regular display that was created by the military years ago as "proof" of artificial intelligence.

(some little kids freaked out when an alien would walk by)

The map directed us to "travel through time"- each hangar is packed with aircraft (on the floor and hanging from the hangar ceiling) from a different era starting with the birth of aviation working up to space travel. We were roughly grouped and moved from exhibit to exhibit, as we could follow on the map.

(approaching the first exhibit: the Wright Brothers, complete with actors)

(Fred LOVEs this picture- Leora's angelic grin seems to imply that she has something to do with the picture behind us)

(I caught Leora pointing her bottle at people and making shooting sounds)

They did such a great job! Several of the exhibits had actors who were standing frozen when you walked up (the museum has 100+ different wax figurines on regular display with the aircraft and various displays). When a substantial crowd was gathered, the figurines would burst to life in full character. Then when they "realized" people were watching, they'd promptly freeze again.

(I loved this one- it's of the first women pilots in the military, during WWII)

(this one oddly reminded of us Fred's youngest brother... a sign?? j/k)

(This guy was hilarious. He was supposed to be a Russian officer regulating people entering the USSR territory)

Some of the stops along the way gave visitors the opportunity to climb into the cockpits of different airplanes. The longest line was definitely for the F-22.

(this is obviously NOT the F-22... we didn't wait in that line)

There were free flight simulators and the IMAX was showing different movies about aviation, also for free. We didn't think the kids could handle the wait for those, but maybe in the future...
Fred took the kids up into several of the open aircraft, like this huge cargo plane. I was happy to sit with the stroller.

(this was on the side of a bomber that drop "Fat Man" bombs during WWII)

After 2 1/2 hours I was pretty much spent.

(one of the last exhibits had characters acting as Men in Black agents trying to "brainwash" us out of remembering that we had seen aliens)

(the Men in Black people were right by the OSI exhibit [the Air Force's version of the FBI- Office of Special Investigation]. They had cool displays of old secret agent-type stuff. Like the triple view of my belly?)

It was an incredible experience. The museum is always a fascinating place to visit, but they really pulled of the "Night at the Museum" theme. We look forward to going again next year, and visiting the museum often until then.


Charity Brown said...

Oh man! I really wish I had gone now! I had loaded Ryan up in the car and when we drove by I was not even about to face those crowds... especially since I was taking him by myself while Tyler was at work... looks like it was run smoothly and probably would have been a blast... sigh... I so should have gone.

John and Becky Bowler said...

That looks like a lot of fun. What a neat experience for your kids. :)