Friday, June 29, 2012

Road Trip Day 2 - March Field Air Museum

As our big summer trip this year, my dad and I decided to take a six day road trip across southern California and Arizona to hit a number of museums that have been on our respective bucket lists for some time now.
 After spending most of the day at the Orange Empire Railway Museum, we decided to break up our drive to Blythe by stopped at the March Field Air Museum.
We aren't particularly knowledgeable about aircraft, so we came to this much more reliant on the museum's interpretation than we're used to.  Luckily, I would say that March Field held their own in that regard; every plane had an interesting engraved sign telling you what it is and why it was important.  Many of the signs suffered from needing a new wipe-down with India ink, but when that's your largest issue with a museum, you know they're doing some things right.
 And this place has plenty of planes for you to look at.  Row after row of planes was impressive, but we felt a little out of our league.  A powerful lesson came from this; when interpreting historical equipment to the public, it is really easy to forget how mundane the differences between a B-52D and a B-52G are.  Many museums quickly forget this nuance of nuances.

One thing that had been completely off my radar that took me by surprise was the D-21 reconnaissance drone.  The SR-71 is a very recognizable aircraft, but I had completely forgotten about it's little sister who never quite worked out.  It's interesting to look at this aircraft now, and compare its capabilities to that of your typical amateur, who can now for a few hundred dollars build their own drone.  No one has home-built a Mach-3 drone yet, but still, that and range are about the only major features lacking from many of the drones you see now.  Makes you wonder how much farther ahead the military is now than we realize.
There were some interpretive exhibits in addition to the giant field of air planes, but the field certainly seemed to be what you should be most interested in.  I found it most interesting to spend time getting a good sense of the physical size of each plane; surprisingly, various models were either larger or smaller than I had expected once I saw them in person, instead of all in one direction or the other.

Like most museums, I got the feeling that with a good docent or passionate friend, this museum could be ten times as interesting.  As it was, we found it a mildly interesting, but uneventful, way to take an hour leg-stretch break on our way to Arizona.

2 comments:

  1. Very interestig place.
    Can you show more photos?

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    1. That's about all the pictures I took; the fact that we took more than a few dozen pictures during the whole week is pretty unusual for us.

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