NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE FLIGHT DECK - October 4, 2016
Coming Soon to the Lone Star Flight Museum:
Aviation Learning Center (ALC)
One of the cornerstone educational programs at the new Lone Star Flight Museum will be the Aviation Learning Center (ALC). The second such center in the country (The first is in Seattle’s Museum of Flight), the ALC will help teachers engage students via an interactive program that entertains and educates at the same time. The ALC’s experiential learning provides a fun, hands-on format that emphasizes critical thinking, scientific inquiry, problem solving and technical reading and writing skills. There are three modules to the ALC:
The Learning Laboratory will feature a simulated ground school environment with 10 interactive, computer-based workstations, including flight dynamics, instrument flight, navigation, weather, weight and balance, and wind tunnel.
The Mooney Hangar will replicate a general aviation hangar including an actual Mooney light aircraft. With a partner from the Learning Laboratory, the students will complete a flight planning activity using Visual Flight Rules and a pre-flight inspection of the Mooney aircraft.
The Simulator Bay will allow the student pair to become the pilot and copilot during a simulated flight. Each pilot and copilot will have jobs to perform during their flight and will communicate with the Simulator Bay educator over aviation headsets in each cockpit.
The ALC curriculum will be a fully aligned with state and national STEM standards and TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills). The program offers three distinct curricula that will allow the programs to be run at three levels of academic difficulty so that students at all grade levels are challenged. Teachers will be provided program content prior to the field trip and will receive student activity reports for their work in the ALC.
At the end of the two-hour ALC program, students will have experienced much of what it means to be a pilot, from the academic math and science background and intellectual exercises, to the practical pre-flight checks, flight plan development and the wonder of flight. By creating an experience where students understand how their academic learning can be applied to real-life situations, they will begin to realize the importance of education in connections with their plans and dreams for the future.
100 Years of Coast Guard Aviation
By: Stewart Bailey, LSFM Curator
When the Lone Star Flight Museum moves to its new home at Ellington Airport, it will be joining an aviation community with many members, some with long, significant histories. Among those neighbors will be U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Houston which was established at Ellington in 1963. It is one of 24 Air Stations currently operated around the country and one of two in the State of Texas. Tasked with a multitude of roles including search and rescue (SAR), law enforcement, fisheries patrol, and maritime environmental protection along the Gulf coast, they fly three Eurocopter MH-65D Dolphin helicopters, which were built in Grand Prairie, Texas. This year is a special one for Air Station Houston, as 2016 marks the 100th Anniversary of U.S. Coast Guard Aviation, and the Air Station is hosting one of the MH-65s painted in special markings to commemorate the centennial.
In 1916, the first Coast Guard Aviator, 3rd Lt. Elmer Stone, was selected for flight training with the U.S. Navy and the men and women of the Coast Guard have been flying it ever since. It was the vision of Stone and two others, 2nd Lt. Norman Hall and Captain B.M. Chiswell, that the Coast Guard’s mission of saving lives could be enhanced by the airplane’s ability to search large areas of the ocean to aid ships in distress. Over the next 100 years, the Coast Guard would use a wide variety of aircraft including several types that can be seen at the Lone Star Flight Museum. These include the B-17 Flying Fortress, the DC-3 (C-47/R4D) Skytrain, SNJ Texan, PT-17 (N2S) Stearman and the B-25 Mitchell.
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress had a distinguished record with the Coast Guard and served as their long-range search aircraft from 1945 to 1959. The 18 Flying Forts, which were designated PB-1Gs, where acquired “factory new” from the U.S. Army Air Force after World War II, when the big bombers were declared surplus without ever having flown in combat. The aircraft were often fitted with a large lifeboat which could be dropped via parachute to shipwreck survivors in the water, and participated in the International Ice Patrol, which helped track icebergs in the Atlantic Ocean. Several of the B-17s still flying today served as Coast Guard PB-1Gs, which is how they survived the scrapping effort that destroyed most surplus B-17s after World War II.
The R4D Skytrain, which was the Coast Guard designation for the DC-3, was also heavily used for search and rescue as well as general transport duties from 1943 through 1961. The eight R4Ds were used extensively in the construction and maintenance of LORAN aid to navigation transmitter stations all over the world in the 1940s and 50s. The SNJ Texans and N2S Stearmans that the Coast Guard obtained from the Navy were used for a much shorter time, and fulfilled a similar role to their Navy cousins. During World War II the North American SNJ-5/6 Texans were assigned to each of the Coast Guard air stations and were used for long range navigation training while the N2S Stearmans were used for pilot refresher training.
Probably the most unusual aircraft of the group here at LSFM to fly with the Coast Guard was the North American B-25 Mitchell, which never “officially” served with the USCG. The story surrounding this aerial oddity came from the last days of World War II when a Coast Guard crew constructing LORAN stations in the Pacific, ran into mechanical trouble with their PBY Catalina flying boat. Unable to complete their mission they worked a deal to “borrow” a B-25 from a U.S. Army Air Force unit across the airfield. The deal was secured by providing the B-25 squadron a case of whiskey. The Coast Guardsmen painted “U.S. Coast Guard” on their aircraft, then headed off to finish their work on the LORAN stations. Most likely, no one would have ever believed their story except that there was a single photograph taken of the USCG B-25J, capturing the event for posterity. It is not known what happened to the Coast Guard’s one and only B-25, but most likely, it went back to the USAAF after the PBY was repaired. (This story was related to the author by a Coast Guardsmen involved in the exchange at the 1994 gathering of Coast Guard Aviators in Traverse City, Michigan.)
So when you see one of the bright orange Dolphin helicopters flying overhead, take a moment to consider the century of dedication and service the men and women of United States Coast Guard Aviation have provided to our country in both war and peace. They exemplify the Coast Guard’s motto “Semper Paratus” or “Always Ready” as they serve to save lives and protect our shores in every kind of weather, 24 hours a day. The Lone Star Flight Museum is proud to be joining such a historic team at Ellington next year!
Wings Over Houston Air Show
SAVE THE DATE!
The 2016 Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Wings Over Houston Airshow will be held on October 22-23, 2016 at Ellington Airport, just down the street from the future site of the new Lone Star Flight Museum, opening in 2017.
Recently voted 4th best airshow in the nation by USA Today, the CAF Wings Over Houston will feature the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, Commemorative Air Force WWII Warbirds, Tora! Tora! Tora! Pearl Harbor recreation and much more.
To purchase your tickets, please click here.
This Day in Aviation History - October 4th
- October 4, 1784 – James Sadler becomes the first English Aeronaut, making a flight in a “Montgolfier-type balloon”.
- October 4, 1909 – Wilbur Wright makes a 21-mile, 33-minute flight along the Hudson River with more than a million New Yorkers watching.
- October 4, 1957 – Russia launches the first artificial satellite from Earth, called “Sputnik”:
- October 4, 1958 – Two British Overseas Airways Corporations (BOAC) airliners left almost simultaneously from London and from New York, becoming the first jetliners to fly the Atlantic route:
Support the Lone Star Flight Museum
The Lone Star Flight Museum inspires visitors, educates children and adults, and preserves history. Help support us with a gift to our 2016 Annual Fund! Your gift will help LSFM attract young people to careers in engineering, technology, science, and math and to inspire our next generation of aviation enthusiasts. It will also help support the aircraft collections, facilities, exhibits and educational programs that make LSFM a world-class museum.
Gifts can be made online by clicking here or by mailing a check to LSFM:
Lone Star Flight Museum
PO Box 3099
Galveston, TX 77552
Please specify 2016 Annual Fund in the memo line.
Thank you for your support!