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Carolinas Aviation Museum — the old, the new, the fun

4 January 2012

Carolinas Aviation Museum — the old, the new, the fun

35º 13′ 09″ N / 80º 55′ 51″ W

Logo of the Carolinas Aviation Museum — photo by Joseph May

The Carolinas Aviation Museum is a joy and is long on aircraft displays as well as children friendly exhibits. The museum has about two dozen aircraft — with two flying condition Grumman OV-1 Mohawks and a DC-3 in Piedmont Airlines livery. Several aircraft are on display looking new, or nearly so with one extraordinary exception. The exception is one nearly all know of as it is the Airbus A320 aircraft of Flight 1549 that aircraft commander Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger and crew made a forced landing on the Hudson River on 15 January 2009 — what came to be known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” was in fact an uneventful landing after bird strikes incapacitated both engines. The flight lasted only a few minutes. That the flight crew made an uneventful landing in extraordinary circumstance, subsequently ensuring all souls on board evacuated the aircraft is remarkable in the quite professionalism demonstrated. Hollywood is not real life unless rank emotionally controlled  amateurs are in charge of events.

Bird strike damage on the A320 flown on Flight 1549 of the “Miracle on the Hudson” — photo by Joseph May

It is fitting that this A320 lies in this museum since Charlotte was the destination of Flight 1549. This display is also an illustration of the dynamic nature of this museum with its attention to old as well as new history to engage the public. The Airbus will be conserved and currently consists of the fuselage (remarkably undamaged, an indication of the piloting skill of “Sully” Sullenberger) including empennage — wings are to be attached in the near future with one of the engines displayed apart from the wing.

Children are engaged by the Airbus exhibit showing a modern heroic action as well as success of design and regulations. They are also engaged by what to few museums accomplish, which is pacing children into cockpits. The Carolinas Aviation has no less than three! An F-4 tandem cockpit and KC-97 cockpit are present when not on display elsewhere as they are mounted on trailers. There is also a P-80 cockpit which kids can simply hop into — and what kid would resist the opportunity?

Cockpit of the Boeing KC-97 as viewed from the flight engineer station (night flying illumination on for effect) — photo by Joseph May

The forward thinking nature of the museum has been mentioned. Further demonstration is made by the flight schedules of their two OV-1 Mohawks as well as a pristine condition restored DC-3 as if in Piedmont Airlines service. The flight schedules for 2012 have not yet been posted, but check the excellent website, and the DC-3 will take longer as it is down for significant maintenance (i.e., significant money must be raised for repair and inspection).

Piedmont Airlines DC-3 of the Carolinas Aviation Museum — photo by Joseph May

There is one more special thing to mention about the aircraft in this museum — on display is one of two remaining Douglas Skystreak experimental aircraft. This aircraft is unheralded by the general public as its contemporary the Bell X-1 made the headlines for exceeding Mach 1. But, why is it unheralded? The Skystreak was singularly responsible for testing and gathering flight data related to high subsonic airspeeds —  the regime most bombers, fighters and airliners work within regardless of being able to achieve Mach 1 or higher. The earlier Skystreak is on exhibit at the National Naval Aviation Museum in its original and glorious red livery — a red that would have made Enzo proud. The Skystreak in the Carolinas Aviation Museum is painted in the later scheme of high visibility white which was found to be better with regard to optical tracking. Interestingly, this Skystreak did not have the control surfaces repainted as doing so would have unbalanced them — showing that this aircraft was designed to live at the edge of its flight envelope, not with in it.

Douglass D-558 Skystreak at the Carolinas Aviation Museum — photo by Joseph May

More posts, featuring various aircraft on display in the museum, will appear subsequently and soon.

The museum is modern with a climate controlled hangar and is easy to get to since it is on the property of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. There are facilities but not food though there is little need as the location is not remote. Additionally, there are exhibits on the apron adjacent to the museum’s hangar but viewing availability is dependent upon the number of museum staff available that day. General admission is $11 USD with discounts for seniors, children, college students and active military — bargains all.

On the apron, a Convair F-102 Delta Dagger sandwiched between a Sikorsky HH-3 “Jolly Green Giant” and McDonnell F-101 Voodoo — photo by Joseph May

My sincerest thanks to Ms Dottie Evans, of the museum, for her attention to my questions 🙂 My thanks also to a guide there named Tim (a retired C-130 pilot) and Clint ( a retired US Navy pilot) for there help during my visit — it is amazing, the level of expertise available ones finds in a museum’s volunteer staff.


To see the other Skystreak simply type “Skystreak” into the search window and select ENTER

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 4 January 2012 05:45

    Hi, Joe!
    Well, you’ve done it again! The SKYSTREAK! WOW! I look forward to seeing the feature on this one!…..and then, Mr. Sullenberger’s feat. I haven’t read much about the Museum yet…but I think the acquisition of this aircraft is going to be one of the smartest moves they’ve made.

    I believe that many are going to be in line to experience and learn; while reaffirming that which makes the United States of America the best country in the world… the courage, strength and optimism of it’s people even through times of stress.

    In that regard, I feel it SHALL be a great New Year! Once more, I thank you for taking the time to do this blog and I am thankful for many new things I’ve learned in aviation because of it and your steadfastness!!

    Thanks for 2011!

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      4 January 2012 20:02

      Very cool, David 🙂

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