Dust On A Butterfly’s Wings

“His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Wings Over Dallas

Tarts and Tadpoles

“Tarts and tadpoles!…The boy is still alive!”

—-L. Frank Baum, Rinkitink in Oz

Tadpole Pool, Dallas Arboretum

There are few things as fascinating as tadpoles in a jar.

The tail slowly shrinks as the legs – back first, then front – appear and grow.

Does the tadpole understand what is going on? It must be frightening… to wake up in the morning (do tadpoles sleep? do they dream wet tadpole dreams?) only to find fresh, unknown appendages growing out of their body. They have a wonderful fish-like life – their precious gills – until they turn into lungs. Do they understand how they are following the evolution of their ancestors?

Of course they don’t.

Do they imagine what might come next? Do they dream of growing wings? A tadpole, like everyone, must dream of flight. What a blow it must be when they realize that they are stuck with their legs, no matter how muscular and sinewy they feel and how high and graceful their leap.

Dust On A Butterfly’s Wings

“His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings. At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did and he did not know when it was brushed or marred. Later he became conscious of his damaged wings and of their construction and he learned to think and could not fly any more because the love of flight was gone and he could only remember when it had been effortless.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Charles Umlauf Spirit of Flight Love Field Dallas, Texas

Charles Umlauf
Spirit of Flight
Love Field
Dallas, Texas

Charles Umlauf Sculptures

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’.