Wednesday, August 9, 2017

A Trip to Grandma's Part I: The Udvar-Hazy Center for the National Air & Space Museum

We're on the move again! This week we're visiting Grandma in Lovettsville, Virginia. Lovettsville is about a 3-hour drive from our home in Richmond, and it's only about an hour from Washington, D.C., the capital city of the United States of America. 

Grandma had the great idea to take us to the Udvar-Hazy Center for the National Air & Space Museum. It's about an hour away from her home, near Dulles International Airport, and it is HUGE!

There are hangars with LOTS of airplanes- and even the space shuttle!! Can you see it through the doorway way back there behind Christine, Moppy, and Charlotte? Trust me, it's bigger than it looks!

Here is the Blackbird, one of the fastest jets ever designed. Too bad it costs so much to fly!

Here are the girls in front of a Japanese plane, the Nakajima Gekko "Irving." Read all about it below.

And here's another Japanese World War II plane...

This plane made us feel very sad. It's the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What a terrible, terrible war. But this is why it is so important for us to learn from history so we don't repeat such awful times.

Our extended family is very connected to everything air & space- this is Grandma in front of the Boeing 707, which she says was her favorite plane to fly in when she worked as a flight attendant for Pan Am back in the 1960s. It was a very glamorous job back then! She actually met the kids' grandpa when she was working at Dulles Airport. He was a pilot- he had his own company where he would return people's lost luggage to them. He flew all over the place! They aren't married anymore, but Grandma remarried someone else who had an interest in the air & space industry...more on that later. ;-) 

We ate at a McDonald's in the museum for lunch. The restaurant had big windows so we could watch the planes flying into Dulles Airport. They flew so low, we thought they were going to land in the parking lot!

Next we stopped at the gift shop- can you spot that Moppy?

We stopped at this machine to buy Moppy a special souvenir so she could remember her time with us. It's a pressed penny!

You put in the money, plus a penny to be pressed, you pick the design you want, then turn the crank and your penny comes out flattened with a design pressed into it. These machines are very common in the U.S., especially at tourist spots. It usually costs between $0.50 and $1.00- plus a penny- to make one. Moppy's arms weren't quite long enough, so Christine helped her out.

We got a quick photo with an astronaut. (Actually just a cutout. But still very cool!)

And then we went to see the space shuttle. This was our favorite part.

It was SO BIG!

This is the space shuttle Discovery. It flew 39 missions between 1984 and 2011 and spent over a YEAR in space! When Grandma remarried, she married Grandpa John, who worked as a software engineer for NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration). One of his jobs was to work on the computer software that made the space shuttle work. How cool is that?

I think this picture gives you a good idea of how big it is- check out the engines on that ship! It was really amazing to see it in person.

Just behind the space shuttle were these neat models of Japanese rockets- a definite must-see for Moppy.

You can read all about them!

Here's another view of the museum- look at all those airplanes! The one that says "Air France" in the back is the Concorde. It was the fastest passenger jet in the world when it was operating. It could fly twice the speed of sound, and made it from New York to London in only 2 hours and 53 minutes- a flight that usually takes about 7 hours and 30 minutes! Unfortunately, just like the Blackbird, it cost too much to operate, so it went out of commission.

We had a wonderful time at the museum and we hope to go back again soon- there was still so much we didn't get to see!


  1. Wow! What a museum! In Japan, we often say "everything is very big in America!" We think this museum proves it right, ha. And your Grandma must be a very smart person to be a flight attendant! She is very beautiful, too!
    Yuki was very excited that they had some Japanese air plane and rocket models at the museum.
    We are very glad Irving and Enola Gay are being preserved at National Air & Space Museum, so they can give us a chance to reflect on what happened in the past and learn from it so we can make a better future.

    1. Yes, everything is big in America! That space shuttle certainly was.

      One of the reasons Grandma got hired as a flight attendant was because she became fluent in Japanese. She wanted to work for Pan-Am, which meant she had to know more than one language. She spoke English, Spanish, and Japanese. It helped her communicate with all the Japanese businessmen that flew on her airline- and it often surprised them to see someone like her speaking Japanese so well!