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Mon, Jul 28, 2008

'What's New At The Museum?'

NASA Relocates To Help EAA Out

by ANN Correspondent Franklin Porath

This isn't one of those phrases like "giant shrimp" or "military intelligence." It's actually the sort of question museum directors love to answer, and as this is the museum's 25th year, Alan Westby, the EAA Airventure Museum Director, was pleased to let ANN know what's new.

About one out of every 10 visitors to the EAA Airventure convention in Oshkosh take the bus to the museum, which is located adjacent to -- but not at -- the Wittman Regional Airport. This means that 45,000 to 50,000 people go through its halls during the one week of the EAA convention.

There will be the usual panoply of distinguished speakers, but this year visitors will find three big differences. The first is that NASA, in a break from its traditional exhibit space, will be in located in the photogallery area. We'll go into greater detail about this move a bit further down in the story.

The second important event is the opening of new exhibit about the Rutan family. EAA, in its way, tries to act and feel like a big family. This exhibit has, of course, the normal encyclopedic panoply of facts and artifacts of the flying and aircraft design careers of Dick and Burt Rutan. But more importantly, it also shows the contributions of Burt and Dick's parents, Ma and Pop Rutan, well-loved figures at previous conventions, who encouraged and supported their sons to become two of the most interesting and important figures in aviation, home-building, and now, space. It shows what EAA considers true family values that are core to the EAA spirit.. 

The third important event is the groundbreaking for the Founder's Wing. This will be one of the most important exhibits, and was requested by the EAA membership, and based upon EAA's own history. The museum will turn the old Cessna Restoration Center into a multi-use space for events and organizations. (Virtually all of the major aircraft restorations are now done at the Kermit Weeks Hangar on the North side of Wittman Field, anyway.)

The wing's second floor is devoted to EAA's impact on aviation, its core accomplishments, and particularly upon the lives of its founders, Paul and Audrey Poberezny. The Founder's Wing is planned to open during the 2009 convention.

Where In The World Is NASA?

A popular spot for people to meet during EAA Airventure has been the NASA building between the flight line and the EAA convention forum venues. But if you looked for them there this year they aren't there. In their place is the EAA Affordable Flying Center, showcasing LSAs and a variety of other aircraft meant to allow us to take to the skies as inexpensively as possible.

If you were wondering where the NASA exhibit had disappeared to, don't panic, they're still here. Go to the EAA Airventure Museum. This is NASA's 50th year, and it is also the museum's 25th anniversary, so in a way they are celebrating together. You will find the brilliant and eclectic NASA mix of NASA accomplishments and NASA future plans in the museum spaces normally occupied by the photogallery. (Check out the 3-D view of the Mars landscape!)

The real reason for the temporary displacement is that EAA needed space for the kick-off of their Affordable Flying Center... so, for this year only, NASA graciously offered to move their exhibits to the museum. Fear not, they'll be back in their regular spot next year.

FMI: www.airventure.org

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