March 2013 - Flying Down the Road
Driving North or South along the US East Coast?



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Okay, you're driving along I-95, so why are we talking about flying? So much US history has happened on this piece of geography, and flight is very much a part of our history. Wilbur and Orville Wright practiced here, World War planes live here, the first liquid fueled rocket was fired along here on March 16, 1926 in Auburn MA, and of course, our astronauts and space vehicles launched (and still launch) right next to I-95.

MD -

First Flight

FL - WWII Flight
GA - Restoring Flight
MD - Rocket Flight
FL -
Space Flight
ME -
Last Flight

MD - First Flight

MD Exit 23: College Park Aviation Museum - How appropriate to house an aviation museum at the oldest continuously operated airport in the world. The first person to greet you is Wilbur Wright - who else? This animatronic man tells you how he came to this airfield in 1909 to teach military officers how to fly.

The gallery contains historic and reproduction aircraft associated with the history of the airfield, as well as hands-on activities for children of all ages, including a 1911 Model B Flight Simulator with which you can fly over this airport using hand controls and state-of-the-art visuals. Look for exhibits on the first US Postal Air flight in 1918 and the first controlled helicopter flight by H. Berliner.

The airport runway is just outside the rear glass windows of the museum, so you can watch take-offs or landings as today's pilots take to the sky. 1985 Corp. Frank Scott Drive. Tel: 301-864-6029.

FL - WWII Flight

FL Exit 215: Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum - When you walk in, amidst the uniforms, photos and personal artifacts from aerial vets, look for the story about the brave B-25 Mitchell bomber pilots who flew secret missions over Tokyo. The aircraft had fuel for only one way, so the trip was a suicide mission, since the pilots had to crash land in China. Read about The Flying Tigers, mercenary pilots for Chiang Kai-Shek who received a $500 bounty for each Japanese plane shot. They got to know Japanese air strategy and helped the US air command in WWII.

During the war, a paddle wheeler with its top cut off was floated out into Lake Michigan and was cleverly used as an aircraft carrier to train pilots to land. An FM-1 Grumman Wildcat fell into the lake, and fifty-one years later it was recovered and totally reconstructed. Dixie Howell, the pilot, was19 years old then and at age 82, when he saw it again here (out of the drink) he was tearful. He was a fighting ace and had shot down 7 Japanese Zeros.

Go through the magic doors to the rear hanger to see the stars - the collection of vintage Warbird aircraft: a Mig-15, Navy A-4Skyhawk, F-14A Tomcat and even a 1941 Dodge Army staff car which was used in "Cider House Rules" and "Spiderman''. Notice that the UH-1 Huey Medivac has a patch in its window (with surgical stitches) which was sewn during bombing raids. As if all that wasn't exciting enough, go further back from the main hangar to the restoration hangar to see volunteers at work on vintage planes.

Once a month you can take a ride on the 1942 Tico Belle, with its extensive war history - it was used in the Normandy invasion and the Berlin airlift. There's an air show every March (the 20th this year) where they take these old geezers up. The gift shop has a large collection of model airplanes and things like aircraft clocks. 6600 Tico Rd., Titusville. Tel: 321-268-1941

GA - Restoring Flight

GA Exit 102: Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum - Wow, right in the middle of their combat gallery you can watch volunteers restore the fuselage of a B-17 bomber. It was unnerving to find out that the aluminum is so thin that your finger can make it wiggle.
Hear first-hand stories of brave men and women who were not only pilots, but navigators, ground crew, radio operators or even POW's from 1942-1945.

You can set the stage watching a 20 min. movie depicting the perils of a World War II strategic bombing mission over Germany, where at times 60% of the flights were one way (now that's bravery!). Find the story about Tyre C. Weaver, who was so badly wounded that he asked to be thrown from his plane to parachute into enemy territory, hoping to receive medical treatment, and of the 10-year old girl who found him.

Learn about Jacqueline Cochran who founded the women's air force and flew every plane, and Nancy Harkness Love, who delivered planes, tested them and towed targets, and Ann Baumgartner Carl, the first woman to pilot a jet. Peer into a MIG 21 nose section. See if you can find the dollar bill signed by Clark Gable, or what "tora tora tora" means.

There's a museum store, and outside you can view an F-4C Phantom, MiG-17A and B47 bomber. 175 Bourne Ave., Pooler. Tel: 912-748-8888.

MD - Rocket Flight

MD Exit 22: NASA Goddard Visitor Center - You can see a mock-up of Dr. Robert Goddard's famous liquid fueled rocket which fired up way back on March 16, 1926 in Auburn MA. The 2 1/2 seconds of flight led to today's rockets flying to outer space and back. This small FREE interactive gallery encourages you to learn about the planets, galaxies, the Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter, black holes and James Webb's space telescope. You can sit in a Gemini capsule and take a photo in a space suit.

Don't miss the Science on a Sphere computer/video showing the rocky Mars surface, hurricane season on earth and you can even find out that you can see the lights of I-95 from outer space! There's a Delta rocket in the back yard and a gift shop next door. 8800 Greenbelt Rd., Greenbelt.  Tel: 301-286-8981.

FL - Space Flight

FL Exit 215: Kennedy Space Center - This isn't a fast pit stop, but it's worth at least a day of your life to live through the amazing feats of the Space Programs, from the first race to space in the early 60's to the Apollo project and its lunar landing in 1969 and then the Shuttle Missions. You get up close and personal with the rockets, capsules, clothing, lunar rover, a shuttle and even a live astronaut (every day, or you can lunch with one!).
Tours include one to view the shuttle launch pads from the four-story LC 39 Observatory Gantry, or Firing Room 4 in the Launch Control Center where all the shuttles were launched from, or go inside the Vehicle Assembly Building. There are IMAX movies, real movies from space, clips of the astronauts talking and you can touch both a moon rock and one from Mars.

The Shuttle Launch Experience takes visitors on a simulated journey to experience launching into space from earth aboard a Space Shuttle. Crew members strap in to a one-of-a-kind motion-based simulator that replicates the sounds, sights, rattle and roll of lift-off to make the most realistic simulation of a launch, culminating with a breath-taking view of Earth from space. Tel: 321-449-4444.

ME - Last Flight

ME Exit 55: Samantha Smith Statue - At 5 years old, Samantha Smith from Houlton ME wrote to Queen Elizabeth and received a reply. At 10, she wrote to Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov about peace. It was published in Pravda, and he invited her and her parents to visit. Upon her return she wrote a book about it with her father.

Samantha interviewed the1984 presidential candidates when she was only 12. A year later she became an actor on sitcoms "Charles in Charge and "Lime St.", and unfortunately died in a plane crash returning from filming.

In her memory, the Soviet Union created a stamp, named a mountain, a diamond, an asteroid and others have named schools, a flower and a vessel after her. Maine has set the first Monday in June in her honor. A life-sized bronze statue was erected near the State Museum. Her Soviet trip had received worldwide attention, and Samantha had become the symbol for children's hopes for peace. 230 State St., Augusta. Tel: 207-287-2301.

What's inside Drive I-95 5th Edition: Here's a FREE look

Look ahead exit by exit to see which motels (with 800 numbers), gas stations, restaurants, campgrounds, 24-hour pharmacies, auto mechanics, radio stations or radar traps are there, and where you can stay with your pet. We share our stories of the road : history on I-95, museums, trivia, towns to explore or places to run the kids. These can be read for entertainment during the drive, and may entice you to stop, stretch your legs and discover someplace new.

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PS: Buy this edition to find other places to experience flying along I-95. Click here or call 888-GUIDE95 (888-484-3395).
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