Independence Day 2011

On the lead up to this year’s Independence Day, I traveled to New England with the family. Traveling across Virginia, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania offered interesting insights on how this part of the U.S. expresses its history. For example, a few houses and churches along our trip flew England’s St. George flag along with the American flag, a reminder of the area’s English heritage. The region is also more hilly than the relatively flat southwest. highlight of my trip was a visit to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. I visited the museum to sustain my curiosity after visiting and interviewing members of a aviation organization in Lancater, Texas (full story is in the works). The Museum holds a variety of aviation mementos like the 1903 Wright-Brothers airframe, the Enterprise shuttle, the SR-71 Blackbird, a Concorde supersonic  airliner , a Uh-1 helicopter and the B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay” that dropped the first atomic bomb in a military operation.

All of the aircraft represent some facet of the United States. The Wright flyer represents the ingenuity of this country. The Enterprise shuttle and SR-71 represent the country’s enormity. The historically climactic Enola Gay often elicits comments and discussion about the Hiroshima bombing. These discussions represent the relative legal and cultural freedom this country allows when discussing sensitive historical events and their moral consequences.

On the way back to Texas from Dulles Airport, I saw another interesting thing.  Above the escalator to our terminal hung another aerospace innovation. It was the MIT Daedalus, a human-powered aircraft. Pieces of another Daedalus model are in storage in the same facility that restored the Enola Gay. Eventually the Daedalus may hang in the same museum I visited as a testament to American innovation.

Have a happy 4th of July.


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