It may seem an incongruous location, but inside the Massachusetts Air and Space Museum is a treasure trove of aviation memorabilia, displays, hands-on simulators, and other experiences. Greeting visitors is an adorable 1929 Aeronca C–2 replica that Cape Codder Donald R. James built for his grandchildren to play in on their summer visits. They got it “flying” across the ground with a lawn mower engine. There’s a complete cockpit of a Grumman Albatross, a Piper Cub simulator, and a Convair F–106 simulator. Engaging displays tell the stories of the many aviators who made history in or who were born in Massachusetts. From Robert Goddard to Michael Goulian and Amelia Earhart to Story Musgrave, there are hundreds of stories of interesting aviators. Children can be hands-on in an RF9 radio control flight simulator, historians can marvel at the accomplishments on display of female aviators including MIT research pilot Anne Bridge Baddour, and visitors can trace the contributions of Massachusetts to aviation from 1860 to the present. Books and videos and other archival documents tower in one corner, and seats from an airliner are displayed in another.
“The Massachusetts Air and Space Museum features exhibits that foster, encourage, and advance the education of future generations in the history of aviation and space exploration, particularly as these relate to the localities and inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, both past and present,” said Barbara Jagla, curator.
MASM’s space exploration exhibits introduce visitors to the many astronauts and technologies related to Massachusetts. One exhibit includes the scientific equipment flown and utilized on the space shuttle Columbia’s STS-73 mission in 1995. The museum has an exhibit featuring Robert Goddard, a Worcester, Massachusetts, native who came to be known as the father of modern rocketry and for whom NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center was named.
“Massachusetts aviation has a long history,” says Jagla, and an exhibit features the 1910 Harvard-Boston Aero Meet. “There we find Starling Burgess of Marblehead’s newly designed aircraft called Flying Fish. In the Coast Guard gallery, you will find a lovely oil on canvas painting of the Massachusetts Coast Guard station at 10 Pound Island in Gloucester Harbor, established in 1925. Our FBO area features a daily weather briefing as well as two airplane simulators, one a Piper Cub and the other a Cessna 172. Visitors can also experience firsthand a remote-control airplane/drone, flying on an 86-inch screen.”
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