Monday, July 27, 2009

Abbie at the “Airplane Store”

Finding new and suitable places for Abbie to burn out her seemingly endless supply of energy has become increasingly challenging. Fortunately, the older she gets, the more “self-sufficient” she has become. The activities her mommy and I choose are slowly becoming of more interest to us as well as Abbie. And Virginia has a wealth of interesting and historical places.

I’ve been itching to take Abbie to the Udvar-Hazy Center –- an annex of the National Air & Space Museum.  It’s a large aircraft hanger building near Dulles International Airport which houses many aircraft, helicopters and space exhibits.  The Udvar-Hazy Center contains some notable aircraft such as the SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, the Enola Gay –- the B-29 Superfortress which dropped the first Atom bomb on Hiroshima -- and one the last Air France supersonic Concordes.

I knew Abbie wouldn’t understand the historical aspects of seeing the exhibits at the NASM, but I thought the open spaces and neat, shiny airplanes would really get her going. And of course, I hope it will, later on, spark some interest in aeronautics and space which I’ve grown up with.

Upon entering the enormous facility, her eyes opened wide as she pointed to one of the first airplanes she saw. “AIR-PANE!” she shouted. “That’s right, Abbie” I replied. “There’s many, many airplanes here… and SPACE SHIPS!”

As soon as I put her down, she tore off, running from one plane to the next. She’d occasionally stop in her tracks, making little 360 degree turns as she took in everything around her. Since we were one of the first ones there, she had almost full run of the place.

At one point, acknowledging all of the aircraft around her, she exclaimed, “AIR-PANE STORE!”

After strolling around and taking in all the historical aircraft, we ventured over to the Space Exploration annex. She was beside herself at seeing such sites as the various rockets and the cornerstone of the exhibit, the real-life space shuttle  Enterprise. We ended up making two trips to the Space Exploration section.

Later in the morning, we took the elevator up to the 10th story Observation Tower where we could see a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. Naturally, she leaned over the glass overlooking the parking lot to find “Mammy's car”. After that, we went down to see the “control tower” exhibit with the sights and sounds of a real control tower.

By this time, she was worn out. We made our second trip to the Space Exploration annex before heading home.

It was a pleasure not only seeing the Center for myself, but watching her simple joy and wonderment at all the amazing “Air-panes”. I’d love to take her back some day where she can appreciate the historical meanings of all the exhibits.

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