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Frontiers of Flight Museum

12 December 2012

Frontiers of Flight Museum

32º 50′ 32″ N/ 96º 50′ 07″ W

The Frontiers of Flight Museum is spacious, well designed and welcoming with several aircraft as well as aerospace exhibits centered on the aviation history of the United States. The museum also has learning facilities and programs for the young. On the visit that is the subject of this post we observed the main floor (it has a nearly surrounding balcony) has a lofted ceiling at least three stories above had made space available for a large gathering later in the evening. The museum must be popular for meetings as a large one was occurring during the visit in the large second floor area between the main floor and adjoining wing which houses a children’s activity/discovery area (one where exercise accompanies learning) as well as an SR-71 flight simulator (display, not ride) and Southwest Airlines exhibits.

Since the museum is located at the southeastern corner of Dallas Love Field (DAL), home of Southwest Airlines, it is small surprise that Southwest Airlines is represented here, or even a sponsor. What may be a surprise is its presence which is large as it covers four decades of the airline’s history. Some of the exhibits are the Spirit of Kittyhawk Boeing 737-300 (nosed into the museum), another nose section of a 737 (which can be entered) as well as then-and-now ticket counter exhibits (quite entertaining for all ages).

The main part of the museum, as well as on the grounds, is saturated with aviation history from a replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s pyramidal parachute up to an F-16B “Viper” — not to mention professional scale models from the museum’s workshop (which can be easily viewed as well as visited on a moment’s notice)  throughout, the Apollo 7 Command Module, missiles and aircraft from all eras of aviation. Lighter-than-air aircraft are also explained and accompanied by a striking exhibit from the tragic wreck of the Hindenburg (LZ-129) — the radio operator’s chair with small parts from the wreckage. The display plaque informs the chair survived the fire in good part due to the construction of the radio room which was necessarily (due to potential of electrical sparks) highly insulated from the rest of the ship.

An almost rare Chance Vought SSM-N-9 Regulus II missile is on the floor next to a Vought RF-8G Crusader under a Northrop T-38 Talon — with many more aircraft to explore by walking around them. Aside from those suspended from the ceiling all aircraft can be viewed up close as none are cordoned off.

The belle of the ball is the rare and recently restored Vought V-173 proof of concept aircraft known affectionately as the “Flying Pancake” by many, as well as “Zimmer’s Skimmer” after the designer. A post on the Flying Pancake is slated soon for publishing.

Particularly pleasing, though the entire museum is pleasing, is the Golden Age of Aviation area. A corner of the main hangar-like structure is dedicated to this era with exhibits on Adm. Richard Byrd, a large custom built model of a DC-3 in TACA airlines livery (which has to be seen to be believed as the detail is phenomenal) as well as much more from this era of adventure, daring and pioneering. It is no surprise that Amelia Earhart is featured in this area but how she is featured is, perhaps, novel. Amelia Earhart re-enactor Maxine Capua does Amelia with accuracy and energy. She entertaining and chock full of knowledge — when listening to her and asking her questions it is not hard to imagine yourself back in the Golden Age and talking with Amelia :)

The museum, of course, is east to get to since it is located on the Dallas Love Field property. Eating facilities have no need to be there and access for everyone is easy as well as carefully thought out — though, there is a pleasant seating area with drink vending machines within eyesight of the activity/discovery area.

Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas Texas — photo by Joseph May

Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas Texas — photo by Joseph May

Southwest Airlines apparently has a cozy relationship with the museum ;) — photo by Joseph May

Southwest Airlines apparently has a cozy relationship with the museum ;) — photo by Joseph May

TF-16 Fighting Falcon demonstrator and UH-1 Iriqois "Huey" — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed Martin (original design by General Dynamics) F-16B Fighting Falcon “Viper” technology demonstrator and Bell UH-1D Iroquois “Huey” — photo by Joseph May

Jupiter missile — photo by Joseph May

Jupiter IRBM missile — photo by Joseph May

Regulus II missile — photo by Joseph May

Learavia Lear Fan 2100 — photo by Joseph May

Apollo 11 Command Module — photo by Joseph May

Apollo 7 Command Module  hatch — photo by Joseph May

Vought V-173 "Flying Pancake" proof of concept aircraft — photo by Joseph May

Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” proof of concept” aircraft — photo by Joseph May

Golden Age of Flight exhibit — photo by Joseph May

Golden Age of Flight exhibit — photo by Joseph May

T-38 — photo by Joseph May

Northrop T-38  Talon — photo by Joseph May

T-33A — photo by Joseph May

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star — photo by Joseph May

Republic F-105 Thunderchief — photo by Joseph May

Republic F-105D Thunderchief — photo by Joseph May

Special note: our sincerest thanks to Marty and Jayne Davis for making this visit possible :)

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. 12 December 2012 09:33

    A friend of mine in Hickory N.C. bought a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star from Michael Dorn (Star Trek’s Worf). He spent many hours learning to fly it. I remember we watched him do fly bys and low passes while we stood on various ramps and airstrips in the area. That dark grey unmarked T-33 gave me a thrill each time it roared by, thinking about all the history Frank must be feeling as he held that joy stick and controlled that beast over our heads with such grand finesse…

  2. 12 December 2012 09:38

    Joe thanks for bringing back such wonderful memoriies to this old man, and I am sure many others as well. Every time you get discouraged, tired and weary please think about this… We are so very appreciative of your hard work and value your efforts so much, you will never know the full extent of how much good you do in our hearts. Thank you, and may you and your’s have a Blessed Christmas and a Safe new year, so you can continue to bless us. Thank you Joesph May.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      13 December 2012 12:08

      Thanks JR :) Happy Holidays to you and yours, as well!

      Thanks too for the appreciation — I know you are aware of the production times involved for posts ;)

      • 14 December 2012 08:01

        Very much so, therefore I can appreciate your efforts that much more Joe. I am always amazed at your consistency and the quailty, not to mention your deep passion which is one to be applauded :)

  3. 12 December 2012 10:23

    Great article! The Frontiers of Flight Museum is one of 177 Smithsonian Affiliate organizations in the US, Panama and Puerto Rico. Because of their relationship with the Smithsonian Institution, they collaborated with the National Air and Space Museum on the restoration of the “Flying Pancake” and its subsequent long-term loan to the Museum for all visitors to enjoy. A wonderful partner in our network of amazing Affiliates! More info about Smithsonian Affiliations here- affiliations.si.edu

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      12 December 2012 11:35

      Elizabeth, so glad to hear from you! Yes — the restoration of the Flying Pancake is quite the success as is the collaboration the NASM has forged with so many museums. Friday’s post is on the Flying Pancake and it includes the link to the NASM’s blog post on this uniquely design. Thanks, too, for the story idea. Joe

      • 13 December 2012 11:27

        Thanks, Joe! Looking forward to Friday’s post. These are really amazing photos too. The Apollo 7 is also on loan from NASM. I had forgotten that when I replied! Any chance I could get a copy of those two pics? They’re awesome! I love seeing photos like this at Affiliates.

      • travelforaircraft permalink*
        13 December 2012 12:09

        You are more than welcome Elizabeth. I’ll happily send the images to you — likely on Friday or over the weekend. I’ll make a note in the caption of the Apollo 7 capsule, as well. Thx, Joe

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