Regular readers know that on top of my day job at Aviation Week, I’m one of the biggest aviation geeks on the planet. And being in the aviation business has afforded me some really great experiences.
Yesterday’s post was about my visit to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center to watch my Airplane Geeks record their podcast live for Be a Pilot Day. I was delighted to see that they were broadcasting right across from the Enola Gay.
Which leads to today’s post. Back in the fall of 2003, I worked in the communications department of Rolls-Royce North America. Rolls-Royce was one of the major donors to the museum, and our offices were not too far away. The museum hadn’t opened yet, but they were busy loading in artifacts in time for the grand opening in December.
A call came in inviting folks to come over to, and I quote, “see something cool.” I jumped at the chance. It was a bit jumbled when I arrived, but you definitely got a sense that the place was going to be special. A docent comes up and asks my name, then tells me to follow him.
And there she was — the Enola Gay. She had just arrived from the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility, located in Suitland, Maryland, right outside of Washington, D.C. Two of the men on the team that had restored the plane were there, and it was a pleasure to talk to them about the work that had to be done.
I got to see the Enola Gay up close and personal, and I was shocked to see graffiti etched on the fuselage. One of the restorers told me it had been out in the elements before a final decision had been made on what to do with it. They also told me that they had recently found rare color footage that showed the bomb bay had been painted yellow. And what a thrill it was for me to stick my head in that bomb bay and take a peek inside the aircraft.
So if you’re in the D.C. area, I highly recommend a visit out to this facility to see the Enola Gay and the rest of the museum’s amazing collection of commercial, military and defense aircraft. Click here to find the best way to get to the museum. Enjoy!