The United States uses about 346,000 million gallons of fresh water every day
During the first week of March, visitors that came to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum had the rare opportunity to see an aircraft being built right before their eyes. The subject of this unusual activity was the Museum’s newest restoration project, the 1929 Curtiss Fledgling, which was donated last summer by Gladys Burrill and her family.
The Fledgling was originally designed by Curtiss in 1927 to meet a U.S. Navy requirement for a new trainer to teach “fledgling” aviators the basics of flight; an acute need since many were still training on the Curtiss N-9, which was a naval version of the World War I Curtiss Jenny. Beating out 14 other competing designs, the N2C as the Fledgling was known to the Navy, was put into mass production with more than 50 being built. Its construction was of a steel-tube frame, an aluminum frame tail with wood frame wings, which was not much different from the Jenny it replaced.
Curtiss expected that the design would also have commercial potential, so they developed the Model 51 Fledgling in 1929, utilizing the unique Challenger radial engine of their own design. Consisting of two banks of three cylinders each, the Challenger’s cylinders are angled slightly fore or aft, making it appear to be a 6-cylinder radial (radials always have an odd number of cylinders aligned in a “bank”). Unfortunately, the Great Depression caught up with Curtiss and only 109 of the civilian Model 51s were built. Most served with Curtiss’ own air taxi service, resplendent in the company’s signature orange and yellow paint scheme, although a dozen or so went overseas to serve in Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Czechoslovakia, Turkey and Iran. The Museum’s Fledgling was the 51st one built and served most of its early years in St. Louis, Missouri. After a stint in Alaska, the aircraft was acquired by Gene Burrill of Medford in the 1960s who restored it and flew it for many years. It was donated by his widow Gladys in July 2009, and trucked to the Museum by his son Mike, who also serves as the emcee for the annual Oregon Aviation Hall of Honor program.
Over the last eight months, the Fledgling was cleaned up, given a “light” restoration and painted by the crew of volunteers in the McMinnville restoration shop, under the leadership of long-time volunteer, Bob Peterman. By the end of February, one big challenge remained… to get the wings on. With its rather long wingspan of over 39’ feet, the Fledgling was too wide to move out of the restoration bay with its wings in place. So, the restoration crew towed the aircraft across the street to the Aviation Museum, minus its wings, and placed in its display position for final assembly. Utilizing a crew of 13 people, including Mike Burrill and his son John, the crew began the task of attaching the wings which had been off the aircraft for more than a decade. With a forklift to raise and hold them in place, the team got the wings bolted on, the controls cables attached and the flying wires rigged over the course of a two day period, all within view of the public. For those there to witness it, the project was a fascinating demonstration of the teamwork and effort required to assemble a vintage aircraft.
Now completed, the Fledgling is a unique addition to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum’s collection and gives a glimpse into the “Golden Age” of aviation, when open cockpit biplanes served as taxis to take passengers or packages from place to place, in what was the beginning of air commerce.
A special thank you goes out to the Fledgling volunteer assembly crew who did such a great job of getting the big orange bird back together on the floor. They included team leader Bob Peterman and restoration team members, Dick Anderson, Lynn Bowen, Carroll Cannefax, Terry Dickenson, Al Dozler, Ben Erb, Jef Finch, Jim Lape, and Ray Mader. Evergreen’s jack-of-all-trades Terry Naig helped out with expert forklift operation, and Mike and John Burrill helped out with muscle power, knowledge of the airplane and video documentation of the process.
By Amy Quick, Director of Membership
February is finally here.
And that means it is Member Appreciation Month!
If you’re not a Museum member, then it is the perfect time to join. Each new and renewing member will receive free IMAX movie passes, as well as the added benefits of a Museum membership, which includes gift store discounts, free admission to more than 250 museums through the ASTC program, invitations to members-only events (aka Member Appreciation Month!), and free admission to the Museum!
Our schedule for the month is packed with activities for both kids and adults. Already the “Change Your View of Our Universe” presentation on Feb. 13 is filling up (featuring John Cowens, our latest guest blogger), so call today and reserve your spot. Don’t forget that the Paper Airplane Guy is returning on Feb. 27, and we are offering a members-only breakfast before his exclusive presentation. That same night, the Museum will host a free adults-only wine tasting featuring Evergreen Vineyards wines and a free showing of Fighter Pilot.
We will have a members-only drawing every day for those of you visiting the Museum during the month. Museum Guidebooks, Spruce Goose coffee mugs and IMAX passes are just a few of the prizes. Each member can enter to win with each visit to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, culminating in a grand prize drawing for a hot air balloon ride!
We all are looking forward to fun-filled month and are excited to see all of you in the coming days!
Click here for a complete Member Appreciation Month schedule.
By John Cowens, guest blogger
Raised in Bluffton, Ind., John Cowens received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Indiana University. He is a master elementary and middle school teacher with 32 years of experience. During his teaching career, Cowens was awarded several prestigious teaching awards, and from 1999 – 2007, he was also a science columnist for Teaching K-8 magazine and received an award for “contributing outstanding science lessons.” Since 2002, he has served as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Solar System Ambassador and disseminates space exploration information (i.e. images from the Hubble Space Telescope) to the general public via school assemblies, general public meetings, which often include star parties with his 14” reflector telescope.
Cowens will be presenting during Evergreen’s Member Appreciation Month in February, and will also be a regular speaker at the Museum Star Parties this summer.
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) received its last repair in May 2009, and if all goes well, this amazing telescope should perform until 2014. In the meantime, NASA is preparing to place The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) into space in 2014, which is designed to complement the HST by seeing only infrared.
Due to stunning images from the Hubble Space Telescope and land-based telescopes, astronomers are determined to answer more questions by looking closer to unlock more “secrets” of the universe. However, extremely large telescopes are needed to see farther and clearer into the vast universe.
One particular telescope constructed on top of Mt. Graham in Arizona is called the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) and has partners in the United States, Italy and Germany. Since human eyes have binocular vision, this telescope operates similarly by combining images produced by the slightly different perspectives of each eye. Unlike all monocular telescopes, the Large Binocular Telescope will produce three-dimensional images with depth!
The LBT will collect light from two circular mirrors that are 8.4 m (27.5 ft.) in diameter and will have the equivalent light-gathering capacity of an 11.8m (39 ft.) instrument and a resolution of a 22.8m (75 ft.) telescope! These two huge main mirrors were spun-cast honeycomb mirrors developed and fabricated in the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab (Tucson, Ariz.). The secondary mirrors will be fully “adaptive,” which means the surface of the mirror can be fine adjusted by a computer in real time to compensate for our atmosphere’s instabilities. With all parts working precisely together, the LBT will achieve angular resolutions very close to the theoretical limits even when the atmospheric conditions are not perfect. Astronomers will also combine the light from the two mirrors (called “interferometric mode”) which will achieve images with 10X better resolution than the Hubble Space Telescope. As astronomers combine the large field-size and high angular resolution, the LBT will provide astronomers with a unique facility for exploring the universe.
As of today, the Large Binocular Telescope will be the most powerful telescope on Earth… but not for long! Hawaii was chosen to build the world’s biggest telescope on top of a dormant volcano that is 13,796 feet above sea level by 2018. The telescope’s mirror will be almost 100 feet in diameter and have light-gathering ability to see objects some 13 billion light years from Earth. This will give astronomers a glimpse of the first stars and galaxies that formed some 400 million years after the Big Bang.
For more information on the Large Binocular Telescope, go to: http://lbtwww.arcetri.astro.it/LBT%20Brochure/Astronomy%20Magazine.pdf
By Stewart Bailey, curator
In the midst of one of the coldest winter spells that Oregon has seen in a while, the Museum moved its newest acquisition, which was most warmly received. The new artifact was a mock-up of the Northrop-Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk reconnaissance UAV.
The Global Hawk is one of the most sophisticated tools available to military planners in the current war on terrorism, and operates regularly over Iraq and Afghanistan. Similar in mission to the U-2 spy plane, the Global Hawk has the ability to stay in the air for more than 36 hours and can survey up to 40,000 square miles in a day. It is equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radar that allows it to see through clouds and sand storms as well as infra-red (heat) and optical sensors that can send data back via a satellite link for immediate review by commanders on the ground and back in the U.S. What makes it unique is that it does not have a pilot on board, but rather is directed half way around the world from its home base in northern California. Like its famous predecessors, the U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird, the RQ-4 is operated by the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base near Sacramento.
Although most people tend to think of UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) as small, the Global Hawk is a real “monster.” Forty-four feet in length and having a 116 foot wingspan, it is wider than the horizontal stabilizer of the Spruce Goose! It cruises at more than 400 miles per hour and can hit a ceiling of 65,000 feet, all while carrying a ton of surveillance equipment. With size and performance like this, the Global Hawk is certainly not an ordinary radio-controlled airplane.
The mock-up that the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum acquired was built for and donated by the Northrop-Grumman Corporation. It was originally used to show off the design to the U.S. Air Force and ended up being put on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF) in Dayton, Ohio. After NMUSAF received an actual RQ-4 from the Air Force, they returned the mock-up to Northrop-Grumman, who in turn gave it to Evergreen. Stored in a warehouse in Columbus, Mississippi, a crew from Evergreen went down to pick it up during the first week of December. Utilizing a truck and driver from the Evergreen EAGLE division, the mock-up made the cross-country trip in five days and was off-loaded at the Museum on Thursday, December 10. It will now receive some TLC from the Museum’s restoration crew, before it is re-assembled and hung in the Aviation Museum building for all to enjoy.
By Stewart Bailey, curator
If you ask any aviation enthusiast to rank the top ten most beautiful aircraft ever built, chances are the Lockheed Constellation will appear on that list.
Developed by Lockheed just before World War II, the Constellation owed much of its early capabilities to its lead customer, TWA, and the airline’s major stock-holder, Howard Hughes. With the outbreak of World War II, the Constellation first flew as a military transport and served as the C-69, but after the war it returned to its roots as an airliner. Because the Constellation was designed to have intercontinental range, many were built for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy as early warning radar aircraft. They served for more than 20 years, keeping track of targets in the air and on the surface of the ocean during the Cold War.
While most Constellations long ago had a meeting with the scrapper’s torch, a few survived and today are prized pieces in the collections of museums or private individuals. In May 2009, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum joined those ranks when it was awarded a Lockheed EC-121T early warning Constellation by the Government Services Administration (GSA) Federal Surplus Program. The aircraft, serial number 52-3417, served as a maintenance trainer for the University of Montana’s aviation mechanics school at Helena, Montana for the last 28 years. Excess to the college’s needs, it was offered up for disposal through the GSA, and of the several proposals, Evergreen’s was declared the winner.
Because of the excellent condition of the aircraft, a decision was made to make it flyable for a one-time ferry flight to its new home in McMinnville. Despite its condition, there is still plenty of maintenance to do, and starting in October, properties director Terry Naig along with volunteers from the Museum began the work.
Their first task involved cleaning out 28 years of debris from birds nesting in the aircraft, and after two weeks, the “Connie” is reported to have smelled much better. The crew is also installing material to keep the birds from getting back in, as well as cleaning the years of grime and oil off the aircraft so its structure could be inspected. The next step will involve moving the old veteran to the Helena Airport, where further maintenance can be performed and the engines can be tested.
For more information about this project, check out this article on the Helena Independent Record web site.