Sunday, March 28, 2010

Surprises at an Airplane Museum

Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum
Pueblo is a town in Colorado of a little over 100,000 people, incorporated 135 years ago. It was one of our stops on a recent road trip to Taos, New Mexico. We went to the Weisbrod Aircraft Museum based on a flier at the hotel, not knowing exactly what's there. Apart from airplanes, the museum held a few space related surprises for us.

We arrived and were greeted by two veteran pilots, one of which took us on a private tour. It was great to get a tour from a person who actually flew many of the types of planes on display rather than the usual tour guide, hired, trained and synthetic. The museum is placed in a small airport which used to be a central U.S. Air-Force base in Word War II. He told us about each plane and about other artifacts on display - various American uniforms, Russian uniforms and even a huge Nazi flag in pristine condition captured in 1945, which as a Jewish person who had parents that were lucky enough to survive made me clench.

Peachy nose-art
B-29 at the Pueblo Aircraft Museum
At the center of the exhibit hall is the "Peachy" B-29, the same kind of airplane which dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is an impressive four-engine airplane from the time airplane nose-art was common, with anything from cartoons to nudity, as immortalized in this web site, created specifically for that purpose.

One of the surprises was in the form of NASA rockets in a nice cabinet. The reason it's there is for a rocket building club hosted at the museum. I think the connection and continuity between old aircrafts, some dating back to the beginning of the twentieth century, to rocketry and space, is important, as for some reason, many realize the global scale changes airplanes have made in our daily lives, but still don't fully grasp how much space technologies improve our lives now and will continue to do so in the future.

Gene Rodenberry's uniform
The biggest space related surprise was the U.S. Army Air Force uniform as worn by Captain Eugene Wesley Rodenberry, known to anyone with an ounce of space enthusiasm in them as Gene Rodenberry, the creator of Star Trek.

Mr. Rodenberry visited the museum himself and donated the uniform, which is now on display as a memorial.

We enjoyed visiting the museum and recommend it to anyone passing through Colorado, if only to get a glimpse of aviation history, be reminded of the low points of the human race in the last century as well as the victories enabling and protecting our future.

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