This officially serves as your warning: I love planes so when I visited the Museum of Flight in Seattle, I needed out harder than is probably tolerable for most readers of this blog. But I don’t even care.
Every day, I drive past the Museum of Flight on my way to work in Tukwila. Those who know me—which is to say probably nobody who reads this—know that I am all about planes. Manufacturers, types, engines, different versions with specific uses, crashes—all of it. And every time I pass the Museum of Flight, I remind myself that I want to go. And let me tell you it was absolutely worth the $25 admission (wanted to get the price in there because I didn’t look that up before going so you’re welcome).
Note: I didn’t take pictures to document everything. There have been plenty of photographers who have captured every one of these planes from every angle imaginable. So I didn’t try, and instead took interesting photos over complete ones.
The first thing that I saw when walking into the main room of the museum is a SR-71 Blackbird.
I believe it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said “America is all about speed, hot nasty bad-ass speed”. This speed is what made the SR-71 a formidable spy plane in the Cold War. And that speed is why I loved it when I was a kid because they were suave, mysterious, foreboding, and wicked fast.
As a sidebar, here’s a funny story from former pilot Major (Ret.) Brian Shul of the USAF wherein he talks about flying the SR-71 with a bit of military humor (don’t worry, it’s actually funny):
This speed is what made it a formidable spy plane in the Cold War. None of these were ever lost despite being shot at literally thousands of times.
Next up, from the Vietnam War, comes the McDonnell F-4C (F-110A) Phantom II. I pulled these names from the Museum of Flight website that lists the full names of all these planes. I imagine most people who had this view of the F4 didn’t have happy memories of it.
The same above goes for its Soviet counterpart the MiG21.
Otherwise, there was the Canadair CL-13B Sabre Mk. 6 which I used as an excuse to play with the light coming through the giant wall of windows.
And lastly, the Northrop YF-5A (N-156F) Freedom Fighter in USAF Orange stripes.
Back in Time to World War 2
What pedant’s trip through a museum would be complete without a section devoted to World War 2? Though to be fair, the advancements that most interest me came about after the war, but who doesn’t love an oldie.
There’s a couple of things to note about this section of the museum:
- I didn’t take a lot of pictures just because it’s an indoor space at a museum and frankly I couldn’t really get any unique shots, but the one below was pretty cool.
- I went with a few friends to the Museum of Flight. And we started to get a little bit goofy in the old planes section. Particularly with some of the slogans written on the planes. I’m not pretending we were mature and I won’t repeat the jokes because this is a polite environment, but… well, the jokes basically wrote themselves.
In a large hangar on the grounds live retired models of planes from recent history. These live outside due to their size. The World War 2 planes and even the military models above were anywhere from as big as a midsize car to maybe like a tank. The jet liners love outdoors and are, well, as big as modern airplanes.
Not pictured below but we’re absolutely there and you should go see are as follows:
- the first Boeing 747
- Concorde (wearing British Airways livery; the only other carrier to fly Concorde was Air France and that ended poorly)
- a B17F Flying Fortress
- F/A-18 Hornet (wearing Blue Angels livery)
There was also the First Air Force One that was used until Nixon replaced it with the 747 we know today. Unfortunately, the inside is hard to photograph because it’s all divvy’d off by Plexiglas dividers, leaving only a narrow walking path down the middle of the plane. But the tail fin… that I can get a picture of.
Lastly, there was also the Boeing 727 which first took flight in 1963. It’s one of the planes that brought jet travel to the masses during a time where United was known for their hospitality in a non-ironic way. Until January 13, 2019, you could still fly on one of these 55 year old planes… but you had to be in Iran.
As a side note, I’ve wanted to go to Russia for a while because at a museum outside Moscow, there exists one Tupolev Tu-144—the Soviet answer to Concorde. The Wikipedia page about it is just a comedy of errors that I want to see up close but never ever ever ride inside.
But since I can’t go right now, this will have to scratch the itch. And I highly recommend this to anyone who finds planes interesting.
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