Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Lone Star Flight Museum, Houston, Texas

Josh is a member of the Lone Star Flight Museum which membership entitled him and his family to tour the B-17 Flying Fortress airplane on July 4. Jim & I were planning on leaving Lonestar Jellystone on July 4, but since Josh invited us to go to the museum with him, we left on Tuesday. Luckily we did since there was a severe rain storm that came through on the 4th and it rained most of the day. We got soaked running from the truck into the museum, even with umbrellas.

The Lone Star Flight Museum is an aerospace museum that displays more than 40 historically significant aircraft and many hundreds of artifacts related to the history of flight. The museum's collection is rare because most of the aircraft are flyable. Located next to Ellington Airport, the museum is housed on about 100,000 feet of property, including its own airstrip. The museum, formerly located in Galveston, moved to Houston to avoid a repeat of the devastation suffered during Hurricane Ike. 

Ellie & Jason are playing on the hands-on plane and glider they have. This is a great place for kids as they have a lot of things for them to do.

Jim even took a turn at flying. This is one place that is limited to 10 years or older. It looks like he is flying in a straight line, but that did not last long. He zigged zagged so much it made me dizzy just watching him. Luckily we did not crash, and the game just ended before we hit the ground.

Douglas DC-34
The Douglas DC-34 is often called the Plane that Changed the World because it revolutionized air transportation in the 1930s by making passenger service fast, safe and profitable for the airlines. It is rugged with all-metal construction; it was reliable and had a greater range between fuel stops, all of which were appreciated by the flying public.

Curtiss A-1 Triad
The Curtiss A-1 Triad was the first aircraft purchased by the U.S. Navy. Ordered in 1911 from the Glenn Curtiss Company in Hammondsport, New York, the Triad received its name because it had retractable landing gear, allowing it to operate in the air, and from land and water. As with many early aircraft, the A-1 was used for numerous experiments and set a number of records. The A-1 was the first aircraft to make a night landing on the water and the first to be catapult launched from a ship, foreshadowing the use of ship-based aircraft as the "eyes of the fleet" for the over-the-horizon observation. The A-1 was built of wood with metal fittings and covered with doped linen. It was powered by a 75 hp Curtiss V-8 engine. For control, it had a pair of ailerons fitted between the wings, as well as the standard rudder and elevator at the rear.  

B-17 Flying Fortress
No other aircraft epitomized the air war against Nazi Germany. The B-17 led the Allies' daylight strategic bombing effort over Germany and quickly earned a reputation for its ability to withstand tremendous battle damage and return to base. It carried a crew of 10 and had up to 13 machine guns for defense. Operating at high altitude, its mission was to destroy strategic targets like aircraft factories, munitions plants, transportation centers and oil refineries. The normal bomb load was around 5,000 pounds, and missions routinely exceeded 8 hours in length. Surviving B-17 airframes are used as aerial firefighters, agricultural aircraft, high altitude photo platforms, cargo aircraft and weather observation aircraft into the 1970s. Fewer than 12 examples remain airworthy.

The following pictures were taken on our tour inside the B-17.

Jim had to go back so I could get a picture of him from the outside while he stood in the top gunner hold. Look closely.

Jim in top gunner hold

Doolittle Raiders
Thirteen of the 80 Doolittle Raiders were from Texas, more than from any other state. All but three survived the war. One pilot was captured following the raid and executed by Japanese forces. These brave Texans were inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001.

Bessie the Bear
Bessie the Bear is hidden in an aircraft throughout the museum and the visitors look all around to find it. Bessie is named in honor of Bessie Coleman, a famous female aviator from the 1920s. She was born on January 26, 1982 and died April 30, 1926. She was the first woman of African-American descent and the first of Native American descent, to hold a pilot license. She achieved her international pilot license in 1921. Born to a family of sharecroppers in Texas, she went into the cotton fields at a young age but also studied in a small segregated school and went on to attend one term of college at Langston University. She developed an early interest in flying, but African Americans, Native Americans, and women had no flight-school opportunities in the United States, so she saved up money to go to France to become a licensed pilot. She soon became a successful air show pilot in the United States, and hoped to start a school for African-American fliers. She died in a plane crash in 1926 while testing her new aircraft. Her pioneering role was an inspiration to early pilots and to the African-American and Native American communities

The Norden bombsight was a revolutionary design created in the 1930s by engineer Carl Norden. It featured an analog computer that constantly calculated the bomb's impact point based on data from the aircraft's instruments and the bombardier's estimation of the winds. The bombsight was gyroscopically stabilized and linked to the aircraft's auto-pilot system so that at the beginning of the bomb run, the bombardier and bombsight took control of the aircraft from the pilot.

For the Doolittle raid on Toykyo, the Norden bombsight was removed from the B-25s and replaced with a simple angled sight nicknamed the Mark Twain. Because the mission was flown at low levels, the Norden was not needed; also, it was feared that the secret bombsight might fall into enemy hands if one of the raiding aircraft was shot down over Japan.

The first aircraft were not designed for comfort and their reliability was questionable. Passengers took to the air at great risk to life and limb.

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