Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Jodie and I went to Paris. There was much more to this trip than aviation, but there were some cool airplane-related highlights. For starters, the flight to Paris was beautiful in ways that can only be seen from the air. As our flight path arced northeast, the sun set to the west over an overcast below us, with just a few towering cumulonimbus in the distance.

One of the things I wanted to do in Paris was go to the French national air & space museum. We went on Monday, but it was closed, as it is every Monday.

The next day, we went to the Louvre, and discovered that the Louvre was closed, as it is every Tuesday. So we went back to the Air & Space Museum.

The French have been involved in aviation from the very early days, and this museum had some incredibly rickety examples of early flying machines. Jodie commented that she was impressed with how much those early aviation pioneers must have wanted to fly to put themselves at risk in such rickety crates.

I think she compares us all to Icarus. There was a nice collection of aviation art - paintings and sculptures all depicting flight in one form or another.

The museum had two Concordes. Known as the "SST" for Super Sonic Transport, the Concorde was the only supersonic commercial jet to ever fly commercially to the United States, and was one of only two ever in service, the other being a Russian Tupolev. The museum had two Concordes, and we could go through them. To me, the inside felt like a very tight regional jet. These jets were unique in many ways, all of which can be read about on Wikipedia. The Concorde flew routes from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and Heathrow in London to Dulles in Washington, DC. I remember the last flight of the Concorde to Dulles in 2003. The plane that made that last flight is in the (US) Air & Space Museum Annex at Dulles.

Antoine de St. Exupery is a big name in aviation literature. He was a pioneer in many ways, and was involved in flying the early mail flights to and from French colonies in Africa and South America. He was a thoughtful person, and his work is worth reading. He died after being shot down off the coast of France in World War II. The museum had an entire section devoted to him.

Perhaps my favorite part of the museum was the section devoted to experimental aviation. The things that people have tried to fly just blows my mind. This one, with its super-narrow wing, for example:

This next one is amazing. The entire body of the plane is one big jet engine. The pilot sits in a plexiglass cone in the front!

It was kind of like aviation overload, if there could ever be such a thing.

Jodie was a great sport, and enjoyed herself despite not being infected with the aviation virus.

As for me, well, I was happy to the point of silliness....



Anonymous Mom said...

"... point of silliness"
"Uh-huh, I've seen that before," I was thinking, and then the picture of you flying away on your own two feet came into focus. I don't think I've seen it to THAT extent before!

9:00 AM  

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