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Recorded at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum during the 10th annual Become a Pilot Family Day and Aviation Display.
This annual event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located in Chantilly, Virginia offers not only the Museum’s amazing exhibits, but also about 50 vintage, recreational, and home-built aircraft flown in for one day only. This year, United brought in a Boeing 777 that was open for a tour.
Our visit this year was sponsored by Iridium Communications Inc.
National Transportation Safety Board training center tour
The day before the event at the NASM, the NTSB was kind enough to provide us special access to their training center in Ashburn, Virginia. This marvelous facility is used to train NTSB accident investigators, as well as investigators from other agencies and organizations.
We were given a briefing on the TWA Flight 800 accident investigation, and then toured the aircraft reconstruction, which is used for training with permission of the victim’s families. The depth of the investigation (which took over four years) is amazing and the examining the physical evidence first hand is an experience we will not forget.
None of us came away with any faith in the conspiracy theories that continue to swirl around the accident. All the analysis points to an internal explosion of the fuel vapor in the center tank.
General (ret) John R. “Jack” Dailey
A retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and pilot, he’s been the director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum since 2000. We talk with the General about his expectations for the event and stimulating STEM. Also, about the future of the Museum with more people visiting online. The NASM is digitizing their database and is planning for free online accessibility. The Museum also plans to bring in more of the aircraft they have.
Capt. Robert Randazzo
Robert Randazzo flew-in the 1945 ex-Pan American World Airways DC-3 (NC33611) he has restored in full Pan Am livery and named the “Tabatha May.” We also talk a bit about Randazzio’s past experience racing a T-6 at Reno.
Matt Desch is the CEO of Iridium Communications, the world’s largest satellite system. Their new Iridium Go! product is the first satellite WiFi voice and data hotspot that works anywhere on the planet at any altitude. Interestingly, Iridium offers an API so developers can create apps for the device.
Matt is also on the Board of AOPA, and we talk about the organization’s mission, the value of being a member, current aviation issues, and the Rusty Pilots program. New AOPA President Mark Baker has initiated a series of regional fly-ins across the U.S., with very good results. On the topic of the cost to be a private pilot, we chat about renovating older airplanes as an affordable option.
Iridium was kind enough to sponsor the Airplane Geeks at the event.
Bill Barry is Chief Historian with the NASA History Program Office, and we talk about what interests an historian at the NASM and the relationship between NASA and the NASM. The predecessor organization of NASA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), will have been founded 100 ago next year, and we talk about the many significant contributions they made.
Follow the History Program Office on Twitter at @NASAHistory and visit them on Facebook.
Edgar “E.T.” Tello
A current B757/767 Captain with United, Tello flew in the B777 on display. But he also owns a Republic Seabee and Rob talks with him about that aircraft. The Seabee was envisioned as a sport plane for pilots returning after the Second World War.
Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at www.brotherloverocks.com.
We’d like to thank the staff and crew at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center for their hard work to make this event a success, and for facilitating the content we bring to you. We’d also like to thank the NTSB for giving us access to their training center, and for their strong dedication to making aviation safer for all of us.