Forget the White House, forget the Star Spangled Banner, forget all the steak; the best thing about Washington D.C. is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Holy fuck, they have some amazing shit here!
I honestly didn’t know where to run to first! Upon entry, you go through security, then you are PRESENTED WITH THE APOLLO LUNAR MODULE!! THE FUCKING APOLLO LUNAR MODULE FOR GOODNESS SAKE!
3 exceptionally brave men sat in this little thing for a week, going to the moon and back! And the yanks have it displayed in the foyer! You gotta love that? The module is AMAZING, seeing the re-entry burn marks on the blast shield made me feel faint with geek shock; I personally could not fit in the module if I laid across all three seats, so goodness knows how the astronauts managed it.
After regaining my composure and putting my tongue in my mouth, I staggered and looked around the little ‘square’ foyer. There in all their glory were the X-1 (Which Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in), the X-15 (which broke the barrier of our atmosphere before rockets went further) and Space Ship One (The future of commercial space travel?). Next to those, the Spirit of St Louis, the first aircraft to travel non-stop over the Atlantic.
I could not take it in? I have loved planes and space travel since I can remember, so to be confronted with Man’s greatest technological achievements was something to cherish.
Around the museum, you can go from seeing the Wright Brothers ‘Wright Flyer’ through to WW1 and the bi-planes, then sample the WW2 planes (one of my favourite parts of the museum) and then into supersonic, before breaking into the space age. It’s like a timeline of flight.
In addition to this, you also have a fantastic and comprehensive guide to rocket technology, from the Nazi V2 right up to things like intercontinental ballistic missles and a skylab module which was amazing to see.
It’s not all big vehicles, they have space suits, moon rock, the Wright Brothers tools, Gene Kranz’s waistcoat (NASA Flight Director during the Apollo 13 triumph). More than you could possibly hope to see, if you are as big a science geek as I am.
Look at it all!