Frontiers of Flight

Saturday was the Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day and I spent some time Friday evening scrolling up and down the list of Metroplex repositories of artifacts.

Fort Worth Modern Art Museum? A great idea, but too far away.

Nasher? Been there a lot lately, plus my favorite piece is closd.

Women’s Museum?, Discovery Gardens?, International Museum of Cultures? Nah….

But there is an aircraft museum, The Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field. I’ve always been fascinated by airplanes (who isn’t?) and I drive by the place all the time. That’s the ticket.

The Frontiers of Flight Museum is not a huge place – but it has a nice collection. A wide variety of cool aircraft and interesting displays.

Frontiers of Flight

The main display area is crowded with craft - from a Wright Brothers' Flyer in the center to a Sopwith Camel, an F16, to the Apollo 7 Capsule.

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Uh oh

I drive by this all the time - a Southwest Airlines Jet looks like it ran into the building. You can tour the plane from the inside... the kids especially like that.

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Planes

They have a few planes on display outside.

There is a new section with several rooms designed for kids’ birthday parties and a big play area – bounce house, play equipment, and – coolest of all – a tall climbing structure with an enclosed area fifteen feet up in the air glassed-in to look like a control tower. They had little toy planes circling overhead on the ends of rotating poles. The kids inside there were having a blast.

Why didn’t they have stuff like that when I was a kid?

A lot of the displays concerned the history of Love Field and the commercial airlines, especially Southwest Airlines, that have flown out of there. One thing that was unexpectedly fascinating were the displays of Stewardess fashions over the decades.

In its early days Southwest Airlines was famous for strange Stewardess fashions. Can you imagine someone dressed like this bringing you a fresh barf bag? Those were the days when commercial flying was something special. Now it’s a crappy, high speed, cattle car. There are no more Stewardesses – now we have flight attendants… I think of Nurse Ratched with a cattle prod.

These mannequins are wearing uniforms from the thirties on up through the fifties. Looks pretty normal, doesn’t it? A little stuffy and a bit dated – but someone dressed like this would not look too much out of place today.

However, in the sixties…. Everybody obviously lost their collective minds. I remember those days… this was considered modern and fashionable.

There was one area of the museum that I was not expecting and that meant something to me. They had a room set up full of model airplanes – both finished and under construction. When I was a little kid I loved to build balsa models. It’s something I still miss.

There is a smell and feel that goes along with balsa wood. Those die cut bulkheads, balsa stringers, and paper… coming together with some glue and paint to make a little airplane – light and delicate. To see these models half built, spread out across the tables… such memories.

The wings with their curved airfoil ribs, carefully carved out with an x-acto knife and pinned out on plans stretched across a pine board. The stringers, struts, and spars slide in – and then it is all covered.

I used to like to build gliders – mostly because I couldn’t afford to buy the little gas motors. They are amazing little machines – the tiny screaming powerplants, belching castor oil and alcohol.

So many memories.

And that’s what a museum is really about isn’t it. A preservation of memories… sometimes yours, sometimes other peoples’.

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