Air And Lots More Space

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Airplanes are the biggest things in any museum anywhere. That’s why the National Air and Space Museum, in Washington, D.C., as big as it is, isn’t nearly big enough. On December 15 it will multiply its space by opening a new museum annex, the Udvar-Hazy Center, at Dulles Airport in northernVirginia. Udvar-Hazy (named after its principal donor) will be 984 feet long and 10 storieshigh and will eventually hold more than 300 planes and spacecraft.

Historic craft have been arriving from all over. In June one of five surviving Air France Concordes made a last flight from Paris to Dulles to take up residence. In August the center unveiled the fully refurbished Enola Gay , the B-29 that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima (in an apolitical display to avoid the controversy that thwarted itsplanned showing at the main museum in 1995). Other highlights are the original prototype for the Boeing 707 and a B-17 nicknamed the Swoose that flew bombing missions in the Philippines, Lineayen Gulf, and Borneo; its captain named hisdaughter after it, and she grew up to be the actress Swoosie Kurtz. The center will include not only hundreds of restored aircraft and spacecraft but also a hangar wherethe public can watch historic planes being restored and, for a decidedly unromantic view of where all that history leads, an observation tower for watching the planes at Dulles takeoff and land. For information, go to www.nasm.si.edu/nasm/ext .