I had the privilege of seeing up close a number of amazing historical aircraft this week. I had an extra day in Washington DC – so I headed over to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)’s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport) – an excursion I had long wanted to take and anticipated very much.
I knew the shuttle Discovery was there – and I assumed a lot of military aircraft – I really didn’t do any research before I headed over. When you walk into the main entrance, the first thing you see is an SR-71 Blackbird… and behind it – the shuttle – a pretty impressive view… and I’ll post pictures of that another day.
What I didn’t know about – and didn’t expect – was the Enola Gay… imo – probably one of the most important airplanes in history. The Enola Gay dropped the first atomic weapon used against people…
On August 6, 1945 the Enola Gay dropped “Little Boy” over the Japanese city of Hiroshema. Over the course of the next 6 months, approximately 160,000 people died. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enola_Gay / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_and_Nagasaki)
When I saw the plane – I have to admit – I just froze in place and my eyes filled with tears as I saw for myself the airplane that delivered such devastation. While I very much disagree with those who see this display as an affront or as distasteful – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enola_Gay#Exhibition_controversy I was somewhat overwhelmed thinking about the history before my eyes.
Here are some pictures that I took (again – with my iPhone – so not the greatest with the lighting).
One thing to note – I was very disappointed with the lack of historical perspective and good information about the aircraft at this museum. With so much information available, its a pity that the museum choses to provide almost nothing about the planes on display.