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Hiller Aviation Museum — the extra fun part

4 August 2010

Hiller Aviation Museum — the extra fun part

37° 30’ 45” N / 122° 15’ 15” W

The Hiller Aviation Museum is only 10 miles (16km) or so south of the San Francisco International Airport, which is an easy 30 minute drive by taking US 101 then taking the San Carlos Airport exit — Holly St. Oakland International Airport is only slightly further away.

Sculpture marking the Hiller Aviation Museum — photo by Joseph May

Primarily I went to the museum to see the Boeing SST full scale mock up of the cockpit and forward fuselage (see update, below). Boeing’s SST design was meant to take the edge away from Europe’s consortium formulated to compete with the USA’s powerful aerospace companies — Aérospatiale-BAC. They did this with the intention of having triple the seating capacity of the Concorde, carrying 300 passengers. Of course, we know that Boeing’s design never reached the prototype stage and Concorde went on to a deserved success.

Boeing SST cockpit mock up — photo by Joseph May

But back to the mock up! She is primarily in blue and looking in mint condition. The visitor can enter through the rear of the fuselage section and step up to the cockpit bulkhead and, although one cannot enter further, one can easily see the crew stations and control panels as the barrier stands only hip high — excellent for photographic purposes. The rear of the fuselage also has a model of the proposed SST with a clear fuselage so that one can see the inner portions of the designers’ intentions. Note the control “wheel” — not a wheel and not a stick — hmmmmm …

Boeing SST cockpit detail — photo by Joseph May

The museum has yet another display cockpit and it may be another rare exhibit, as well — a Boeing 747’s and this one is meant to explore with seating allowed at the crew stations! Many years ago I was on a Braniff 747 on my way to visit a best friend stationed in Hawaii and had the chance to visit the upstairs lounge but regrettably didn’t do so. Those days with the upstairs lounges are long gone since the 747 upper decks are now devoted to business class seating — and priced out of my realm. But the Hiller museum saves the day! One enters through the rear lower deck level where the visitor can peruse the forward seating (unique in that one may sit at the very front of the aircraft, forward of the pilot station). The tightly spiraled staircase is taken to gain entry to the lounge and cockpit. It appears fully functional, only awaiting a plug-in to the power cart, and comfortably used with the appropriate scuff marks to show what gets the most wear from use — seat entry, parts of the control wheel, rear of the center console (feet must be placed there … especially to exit the piloting seats). This aircraft is huge but the cockpit is not, not really. The view from the perch is spectacular as the fuselage’s nose is not in the way. What surprised me was that, as a person in tune with driving boxy cars and not one of a pilot, the initially awkward impression I had sitting in the pilot’s seat. The cockpit is narrowing to the front from just behind ones shoulders so I had the distinct impression that I was canted out to the left in order to face directly forward. As with most things I’m sure a few moments at the controls of a moving aircraft would remove the sensation and it was unusual to be able to see almost directly downward to the side as well as to the front — a rare treat when landing large aircraft visually I would suspect.

Boeing 747 cockpit — photo by Joseph May

Further description of the museum will be posted on August 11th.

Entry is modest at around $10 and getting there is hardly easier since it is less than 10 miles from San Francisco International Airport*. One could also fly into Oakland International Airport**. There is no café though it is not required since the museum is located within an urbanized area.

* the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library & Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum (but informally called the San Francisco Airport Museum & Library) is located with the International Terminal, soon a post will be made regarding my recent visit there

** the Oakland Aviation Museum is located at the Oakland International Airport property and a post will appear soon regarding my recent visit there


Update: the Boeing SST mock up was traded to Boeing’s Museum of Flight in Seattle for a Grumman HU-12 Albatross earlier in 2013. Our thanks to Isaac Alexander of Jet City Star for letting us know 🙂

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 4 August 2010 09:24

    Great shots! Seems so complicated when you look at the cockpit.

  2. travelforaircraft permalink*
    4 August 2010 16:10

    Thanks and I agree … keeping track with the gauges must be intense.

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