For those who remember the 1968 movie Yours, Mine and Ours, this blog isn’t about kids. We have one “kid” and she is ours. This blog is about three museums, one in Randy’s wheelhouse, one in mine, and one that had something for both of us.
Yours – Commemorative Air Force Museum
Randy really enjoys airplane museums and we have been to some great ones. (The blog post Airplane Stories visits one of the best.) My eyes glaze over after a couple hours but Randy could go on for days. In Mesa, we visited the Commemorative Air Force Museum.
The Commemorative Air Force is an international organization dedicated to preserving combat aviation history. They focus primarily on World War II aircraft and service.
The Arizona group’s first vintage aircraft restoration was a donated B-17 named Sentimental Journey. Although we have been inside a B-17 before, this time we had a docent walking us through every nook and cranny.
The saying “the full nine yards” came from nine yards of munitions used by the waist- gunners in B-17s.
Commemorative Air Force pilots (most former military and airline), and crew fly their preserved aircraft to air shows around the country. As a fund raising tool, they sell rides on many of the vintage planes. Waist-gunner area seats are $425 per ride and $850 for the coveted bombardier nose seat.
We watched an interesting movie about B-17s. They weren’t the fastest or most agile, but they were nearly indestructible. They often returned to base with significant damage. Some credit the B-17 with winning World War II.
General George C. Marshall credited the jeep as America’s Greatest Contribution to Modern Warfare in 1941. WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle said the Jeep and the Coleman GI pocket stove were the “two most important noncombat pieces of equipment ever developed.”
We learned how the Army Air Corps trained pilots in the WWII era. Potential pilots completed a twelve week module on the first plane and if they passed, went on to the second, third and fourth planes in successive twelve week modules. Each plane type was more advanced. Those that failed in a module might become crew or a gunner.
This plane is a DC-3, also called a C-47 in military vernacular, a transport plane for troops and supplies. This particular plane was surplussed in 1951, purchased by a company in Bolivia, and used as a transport plane in South America.
The Hoover Vacuum company purchased this plane (1960s?) and outfitted it as their corporate plane. A ride on this vintage plane costs $150.
The third plane we were told about was the B-25, Maid in the Shade. Fund raising seat prices range from $325 – $650.
Sixteen B-25s were used in Colonel Doolittle’s bombing raid over Tokyo memorialized in the movie 30 Seconds Over Tokyo. This was the first retaliatory raid on Japan after Pearl Harbor. The attack on Tokyo was successful but most pilots ran out of fuel returning and had a variety of experiences in China and Japan. The Commemorative Air Force invites people who had experience with a plane model to sign it. Notice Ed Saylor signed as one of the 1942 Tokyo Raiders.
Mine: The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) is the number one rated attraction in Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the country. It is also ranked in the top 20 museums in the United States. We wondered if MIM would live up to those lofty rankings. It did. It was also overwhelming.
Most displays also feature video of the instruments being played in a local setting.
There are some interesting instruments out there!
The featured exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum during our visit was Ancient Musical Treasures from China.
This bone flute was found in 1986 and believed to be 7000 – 9000 years old. Its complexity suggests use in harmonies and in tuning instruments to different scales.
This Bianzhong chime set is thought to be 2500 – 2800 years old and is one of only ten known surviving instruments.
One of our favorite sections of the museum was the Artist Gallery. There are displays encompassing everything and everyone from Leonard Bernstein to Taylor Swift.
One of the 2008 Chinese drums used in the opening ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics is at MIM. A link to that performance is here: 2008 Olympic Drummers
The first guitar John Denver ever owned, given to him at age 12 by his grandmother, is also at MIM. This guitar was lost for a time and when found was the motivation for his song “This Old Guitar.” He tells the story and sings the song at this link. John Denver – This Old Guitar
We could play instruments ourselves in the Experience Gallery!
Ours: Arizona Science Center looked to have exhibits for both of us – a planetarium, IMAX theater and general science stuff for Randy and a visiting exhibit on Pompeii for me!
We started with the Pompeii exhibit which was fascinating and haunting. Pompeii was destroyed in 79 AD by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The eruption destroyed the city but also preserved it. The exhibit holds hundreds of artifacts excavated from Pompeii.
Jewelry found in Pompeii.
These coins were found in a pouch next to a body.
If you found the Pompeii stuff compelling, I send you back to the related Oplontis Project in the blog post from Montana, Fall 2016 Way Above Average!
We also had some fun at the Arizona Science Center. This Forces of Nature Display allows you to experience representations of tornado force winds and some mild earthquake rocking.
We spent time figuring out where all the innards fit!
And we had some science fun.
We’ve been to many planetarium shows and do not care to go to another on constellations. This planetarium offered different topics and Randy chose The Solar System. It wasn’t just a video production. It was an interactive experience with a gifted teacher.
I know this blog post is way longer than usual. I apologize! Each of the “yours, mine and ours” museums could have been a blog post in itself. But then I’d have had to come up with a new title!