The inside of a KC-135 fueling aircraft is not something many people get to see. The important missions it goes on are not something that many people get to hear. However, during the Udvar-Hazy Centerï¿½s Become a Pilot Day, Saturday, June 14, visitors will be able to see and touch more than 65 aircrafts, including the KC-135, and hear stories and tales about them all from their pilots and crews.
"Basically [the event] is to build awareness on how to become a pilot and the skills needed and that itï¿½s a sport that anyone can take a part of and have fun with ï¿½. In the 65 aircrafts we bring in there will be a great variety from balloons to medical aircrafts to some very serious amateurs with jets," Doug Baldwin, the education director at the Udvar-Hazy Center and one of the organizers for the day, said. "It crosses around all aviation fields. Itï¿½s for awareness but also a chance to climb in and see planes you wouldnï¿½t get a chance to see."
DURING THE day, which will last from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., local pilots and military will allow people to explore their planes, climb in the cockpits and ask questions about how the planes work. While most of the aircraft are privately owned, their owners usually allow children to climb in and explore and the entire event is based around family fun. Exploring planes wonï¿½t be the only things to do at the event. There will be hands-on activities, music and speakers plus a large collection of model airplanes.
"There will be a hands-on packing parachute demonstration. We have discovery stations, which are hands-on activity stations like one about becoming a pilot. Weï¿½ll have aviation simulators like a 1908 Wright Brothers plane simulator that recreates the experience of the earliest type of flyer," Baldwin said.
Also featured will be the United States Air Force Band, "Airmen of Note," who will perform at 12 p.m., and veteran aviation author Robert F. Dorr, and astronaut and
pilot Thomas D. Jones will sign copies of "Hell Hawks." There will even be a story time for younger children to enjoy. Of course, there are also things for adults such as information on where to learn to fly and tours of the center.
There will not be an air show as part of the event, but spectators will still be able to see planes in flight.
"Because weï¿½re so close to the airport we canï¿½t put air shows on, but the aircrafts will be flying in, which people canï¿½t see, but you can watch the planes depart and watch them taxi down and take off. You canï¿½t see them land but you can see them leave," said Baldwin.
Baldwin said that many of the planes are not aircraft that people would normally get to see. He points to the JStar, which is an aerial surveillance aircraft the military uses as one.
The Udvar-Hazy Center is located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway in Chantilly. The event is free but airport parking is $12. Visit http://www.nasm.si.edu/becomeapilot/.