Tuesday, June 23, 2015

National Airline History Museum - Kansas City - 6/20/2015

My son Scott knew I was an airplane lover so as part of our weekend long Father's Day celebration, he took me to the National Airline History Museum at the Downtown Airport in Kansas City, MO last Saturday.  I had been there before but it was with a larger group so I didn't get to spend as much time as I wanted looking at all the knobs, flaps and engines.  I also have a better camera now so I wanted retake the photos of the museum.  Here is a link to the museum's website:


I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas so I am right at home with the planes.  I have had course work on propulsion systems, aerodynamics, stability and control, structures, instrumentation, navigation, and so on, so there wasn't much that I didn't understand while at the museum.  I have to admit that my degree was earned about 45 years ago but that doesn't matter when you are looking at 60-70 year old planes.  Before you get the idea that I am totally obsolete, I want you to know that I also took classes in Space Dynamics and help a professor work on a project for the Saturn 5 rocket.  So I know how to build rockets and put satellites in orbit....that makes me a "rocket scientist".  As it turns out, all that education doesn't help much when it comes to flying.  More on that and the simulator later in the post.

The museum and all the planes are located in a large hangar at the airport.

Just outside the entrance to the museum, they have a Lockheed L-1011 on the tarmac.  The plane is complete except for the engines.  Scott was surprised to learn that he flew to Hawaii on this type of plane when he was about 6 year old.  He remembers the trip but not the flight.  There is a good reason for that.  Scott was hyperactive when young so we helped him and everyone else on the plane enjoy the trip by giving him a small piece of a Dramamine tablet.  He didn't get air sick and he was well rested when we arrived.

The L-1011 had three engines with the third one located in the tail of the plane.  It was a good plane that lost out in the competition with the DC-10 after just 250 were manufactured.

Scott is checking us in at the front desk.

The tour starts with an 8 minute movie about the airline industry.  It was very interesting and I wished it had been a little longer.  We were comfortable while watching from the first class airline seats in the theater.

A large model with cutaway of a Boeing 747.

Uniforms and other artifacts from days gone by in the airline industry.

I am old enough to remember what it was like when smoking was permitted on the plane....ugly.

There are three planes in the hanger....a Martin 404, a Douglas DC-3, and the Lockheed Constellation or "Connie" as it was nicknamed.  The museum's plane is a Super G model and has been completely restored.

The museum's DC-3.

This is a flight simulator for the Boeing 737.

This is a scaled down version of Disneyland's Moonliner.  TWA sponsored the Disneyland version and had a reduced size version made to adorn the roof of their corporate headquarters building in Kansas City.

The next photos were taken inside the Martin 404.  All the seats were considered first class.

The cockpit of the Martin 404.

The DC-3 was not open for the tour as it is still undergoing restoration.  I once flew on a DC-3 from Albany, Georgia to Atlanta in 1971 when I was returning from vacation visiting with friends.  Interesting ride...I don't think we ever got over 1,000 feet.  I could see the leaves on the trees.  I could also see the oil oozing out of the gaps between skin panels and several screws were slowing unscrewing themselves due to the vibration of the plane in flight.

Here is the "Connie" in all her glory.  I still think that this is the sexyist prop plane ever built.  Howard Hughs played a part in the design of this plane.

Three tails made this plane unique among other commercial planes.

A cut away view of the turboprop engine used on the Constellation.

We are now onboard the Constellation and looking at one of the galleys where food and drinks were prepared.

On long flights, first class passengers had the option of sleeping in a bed.

I didn't measure the seats but they look less crowded than current planes.

The navigator's station just outside the cockpit.

The Constellation cockpit.  The flight engineer's panel is on the right wall of the plane.

Here I am on the flight simulator and as I said earlier, all the degrees in the world don't make you a pilot.  My previous experience with a simulator was in Denver on one of the United Airlines 737 units.  A family member who was a United pilot got me in to play with it.  The short story is that I crashed and burned three times trying to land.  Most likely, I would have taken all my passengers with me.  If I am ever caught on a plane that needs a pilot from the passengers, I will not hold up my hand.  We stand a better chance with a cab driver.

The simulator was set up like a Cessna single engine plane and all the landscape scenes were from Kansas City.

It would have been a hair raising landing but we would have survived...yea!

After a hard day on the simulator, Scott took me to lunch at a Kansas City, KS BBQ joint that I had never eaten at or even heard of before.  They apparently are very successful in BBQ contests.  The meat was excellent.  We got the sampler platter to share so we could try different kinds of meat.  I rarely like ribs because of the grease and meager amounts of meat on the bone.....these were great.  Try Slaps BBQ if you are ever in KCK.

It was a very different and enjoyable day..thanks Scott.

Now for a little fun family history.  We used to go down to the old Municipal Airport (now known as the Downtown Airport) to watch the planes land.  We would park at the start of the runway on Lou Holland Drive and the planes would just barely clear the road as they landed.  The runway was short so they needed to get down as soon as they could to avoid overshooting the runway on the other end and landing in the Missouri River.  Here is a YouTube clip of the planes and airport.  There are DC-3's, Martins, Constellations, and brand new Boeing 707's in the clip.  The woman seen running in front of the landing plane was my mother.

My uncle Bill and wife Lucy traveled a little since he was an employee of TWA at Municipal Airport and could fly almost free.  Here is a photo of them just before boarding a Martin 404 to take a European vacation.

So, the roots run deep for our family for Municipal Airport, for TWA, and for airplanes in general.  Obviously, Scott's Father's Day gift brought back lots of memories in addition to being very enjoyable.