If you’re an air, space, tech or history nut, the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC is the greatest museum on the face of the earth. It opened 35 years ago today and is now the most popular museum in the world. NASM is the only place you can see the Wright Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, the actual engineering model of the Hubble, not far from another earlier telescope that’s a few hundred years old, Apollo hardware, Soviet rocketry, etc etc etc. NASM is comprehensive in a way that no other flight museum can be. There’s an air and space museum in Hutchinson, KS that comes about as close as is possible — they have a disabled nuclear warhead and a Sputnik engineering model, among other things — but NASM is unique in the world. And the newer addition houses a record-holding SR-71, the space shuttle Enterprise, MiGs, a Concord, Goddard’s rocket, a captured Nazi jet fighter, a Japanese piloted missile, race planes…it’s just incredible. I’ve spent many days in both museums and never got bored with any of it. But I’m a geek about this stuff.
NASM has been kind enough to play a pair of documentaries and a couple of IMAX films I worked on, but that’s not the point. The National Air & Space Museum is a national treasure and one of the Washington area’s crown jewels, and it’s free to see, year round. Happy birthday!