Airplane Aloft at National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center

Air Power History, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview
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Airplane Aloft at National Air and Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center


On April 30, 2003, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum began the delicate work of hanging historic aircraft at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, its new companion facility at Washington Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia. The center opens to the public December 15.

The Loudenslager Stephens Akro Laser 200 was lifted by crane and hung by cable from one of the aviation hangar's ten-story-high arched trusses. The aviation hangar--with a length of three football fields--will ultimately display some 200 aircraft. On opening day, seventy will be in place including thirty-eight suspended at two levels and the remainder at floor level. For visitors to experience the sensation of soaring, elevated walkways in the aviation hangar will run parallel to the two tiers of suspended airplanes.

With the Laser 200--which he built--pilot Leo Loudenslager performed innovative tumbling and twisting routines, winning an unprecedented seven U.S. National Aerobatic Champion titles and the 1980 World Champion title.

The Udvar-Hazy (pronounced OOD-var HAH-zee) Center will eventually house some 80 percent of the museum's aircraft and large space artifacts, many stored away for decades. The museum's flagship building on the National Mall displays about 10 percent of the collection.

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