National Air and Space Museum

Free admission this weekend at more than 100 museums

On the first weekend of every month more than 100 museums, zoos and attractions around the country offer free admission to anyone with a Bank of America card as part of the Museums on Us program.

Visiting one of the participating venues is a great way to stretch a weekend entertainment budget and a good excuse to get acquainted with the work of a new artist or get reacquainted with a favorite animal at your local zoo.

One place on the list this month is the Wichita Art Museum in Kansas, which is hosting a traveling exhibition from the National Air and Space Museum through the end of September.

In Plane View: Abstractions of Flight features 56 large-format photographs by Carolyn Russo showcasing the elegance and beauty of airplane design.  For example, this photo shows grooves in the exhaust cone of the North American X-15.

In Plane View Exhibit at Wichita Art Museum

Can’t make it to Kansas? When the exhibit leaves the Wichita Art Museum, it will travel to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia and then, in January 2011, to the Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences in Peoria, Illinois.

You might also take advantage of the Museums on Us program to get free admission to the Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan (Saturday only), where the 15 planes in the Heroes of the Sky exhibit includes this 1926 Fokker Trimotor used by Richard Byrd in his attempt to be the first to reach the North Pole by plane.

Ford Fokker at Henry Ford Museum

According to the museum notes:

Because Edsel Ford funded Byrd’s trip to the Arctic, the plane was named for his daughter, Josephine. Tony Fokker, the manufacturer, wanted to be sure no one mistook the plane for a Ford, so he painted the giant “FOKKER” on the wings and fuselage. There’s no heater in this plane, so temperatures inside the cabin could have easily reached -50° F while flying through the Arctic sky.

Museum Monday: Looking for Lindbergh

There are more than 700 aviation and space-related museums in this country.

Each Monday we profile one of them. Eventually we’ll hit them all.

This week: Looking for Lindbergh

Charles Linbergh

Aviator and explorer Charles Lindbergh died on August 26th back in 1974, so it’s as good a time as any to take a look at some of the museums around the country that display items relating to Lucky Lindy.

First stop: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., which displays Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis airplane in the Milestones of Flight Gallery.

(Photo by Eric Long/NASM, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

Next stop: The Missouri History Museum, which has an ongoing exhibition dedicated to Charles Lindbergh’s life. The exhibit includes some of the medals and gifts that Lindbergh loaned to the Missouri Historical Society for ten days back in 1927, shortly after the famed aviator completed the first solo, transatlantic flight.

Lindbergh, Missouri History Museum

Crocheted, stuffed airplane made for Charles Lindbergh

“The Missouri Historical Society exhibited the items on top of the archaeological cases in an attempt to display the items as quickly as possible. The exhibition opened on June 25, 1927, and a local newspaper estimated that 116,000 people viewed the Lindbergh items during the first four days of the exhibition. The exhibition’s popularity led to Lindbergh agreeing to extend the loan of the collection; five years later, Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, donated the extensive collection to the Missouri Historical Society.”

There are plenty of other museums around the country that display a community’s link to Lindbergh, but for today our final stop will be the Stanley King Collection of rare Charles Lindbergh commemorative memorabilia at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center down the road from Washington Dulles International Airport.

Stanley King Lindbergh collection

(Photo by Eric Long/NASM, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

Do you have a favorite aviation or space-related museum you’d like others to know about? If you do, please write a note about it below and it may be featured on a future edition of Museum Monday here on

Free stuff: Win one of 40 free trips in Virginia.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the state’s “Virginia is for Lovers” marketing campaign, Virginia tourism officials are giving away 40 trips in 40 weeks.

Each has a different theme. And as far as I can tell even the grand prize options don’t include airfare.  But if you live out that way or win a prize and can get over there, it seems like a lot of fun and definitely worth sending in an entry.

For Stuck at the Airport fans, note that the first week’s prize, which will be given away on February 20th, 2009, has an aviation theme.   Activities center around Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, Va.

The prize package includes two night’s lodging at a Hyatt Place hotel, a ride in a Biplane, and a private tour of the National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, just down the road from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD).

NASM: the Spirit of St. Louis in the GFallery 104

(The Spirit of St. Louis, the plane Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in 1927, is one of the aviation treasures on  display at the museum. Courtesy: Smithsonian Institution.)

I’m holding out for Trip #27: it includes a chance to be a judge at the Chincoteague’s annual Oyster Festival – and hopefully lots of oysters.

Enter the Virginia is for Lovers sweepstakes here.