Museum of Flight

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Carol ensures that we have a proper breakfast. Today we had upma and choley, an unusual combination, reminding you of the mallu puttu and kadala curry. And good Indian masala tea.

Five minutes drive from Prabhu & Carol’s house is the Golf Club at New Castle with its lovely landscaped grounds with a fabulous view of Lake Washington, Mercer Island, Belevue, and more. SP tells me that this is usually the first place that he takes his guests to, just to be able to share his joy at having a stunning place like that so close to home. Because of the rains he was hesitant to take us there but did so this morning anyway. I enjoyed seeing his disappointment at what awaited us but assured him that we were able to imagine the beauty to some extent.

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Another similarity with New Zealand is the evergreenness of native trees. We did see a lot of autumn yellow and orange but were told that they were from trees introduced in more recent times. Washington is known as the Evergreen State and Seattle is the Emerald City. I must admit that Seattle is indeed beautiful. (High praise from someone who comes from the most beautiful country on the planet.)

We then drove to the Museum of Flight. Would I enjoy this? What was I even doing in a place like this? Someone like my friend Ranjit David in Auckland would relish this so much, but me . . . Many misgivings.

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Let your dreams and imagination soar as the wonder of flight comes to life at the largest air and space museum in the West – The Museum of Flight. This 12-acre cultural landmark includes more than 85 historic air and spacecraft, interactive exhibits, flight simulators, family and educational activities. – From seattleattractions.com

We had a guided tour of the Great Gallery section, which displayed more than 40 historic aircraft. This covered a wide range of aircraft—landmarks in man’s efforts to master the art of flying and to make it a viable option of travel. A_GuidedTourMuseumOfFlight

The guided tour was well worth the while, for we would not have had the patience to read about the various exhibits. Take the case of the Gossamer Albatross II, how would I have known that it had the pilot pedalling to rotate the propeller and that on June 12, 1979, cyclist Bryan Allen pedalled his way across the English Channel in three hours!

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We then visited the Red Barn section, which showcased the making or building of early aircraft. I was looking at a model of the aircraft built by the Wright Brothers; another gentleman was also looking at the model closely. I apologised for getting in his way, when he asked, “Do you know how they got this plane to turn?” I said no, and he asked me if I’d like to know, and proceeded to tell me about Wing Warping—how when the pilot turned his body, he would cause a drag on one wing and a lift on the other wing—and how he would simultaneously use his feet to move the tail. This would cause the plane to turn. The upward and downward motion of the plane was effected by the pilot’s hand movements. Turning a knob on the model case actually demonstrated what happened when the pilot turned his body. Thank you Mr Bernice Green for bothering to tell me this.

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We saw other interesting displays in this museum to do with the Moon Landing and the World Wars.

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Then we used the overhead bridge to cross the street to see the Space Gallery. SP took this picture of us on the bridge.

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The highlight in the Space Gallery was the space shuttle trainer.

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This space shuttle was not actually used to go to space, but it was the very one that astronauts used for their training before they went to space. A space shuttle had to be able to function in space and then be able to land on earth like an aeroplane.

I realised that much of the information I saw today, I already knew to some level, bits and pieces, a little here and a little there. But in a museum like this, one is able to effortlessly put the pieces together. For instance, i have a better idea now about how at the start of its journey, a space shuttle comprises the orbiter, the external fuel tank, and two solid rocket boosters. The boosters break away first followed by the fuel tank.

Finally we went to the airpark and looked at the inside of the West coast’s only Concorde as well as America’s first jet Air Force One, the plane on which many Presidents flew.

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A late lunch at a little Vietnamese place, Top Pho.

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A couple of hours at an outlet mall.

Dinner at a fried-chicken place that Carol likes and that also happens to be highly recommended by Oprah Winfrey.

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