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FIVE FAVES ENCORE

Five Faves

'Space guy’ picks favorite Air Zoo treasures by

TROY A. THRASH

Happy 40th birthday to the Air Zoo! In 1979, when the Air Zoo first opened its doors to the public, founders Pete and Sue Parish laid the foundation for what has become one of the most entertaining and educational aerospace and science experiences in the world. When I first walked through its iconic cloud tunnel six years ago, that unmatched immersion in an air and space museum mixed with entertaining theme park attractions mixed with educational inspiration just blew me away, as it still does each time I enter the Air Zoo. Here are just a few of my favorite jewels that launch my own passion every day:

Historic Globe The Air Zoo has a collection of more than 100,000 artifacts and archives related to military, aviation and space history. Flying helmets, military medals, spacesuits and more line the shelves of our collections, providing remarkable opportunities to bring history to life for people of all ages. Each time I walk through the collections halls, I must stop to see a beautiful Rand McNally globe from 1932 that has the original signatures of some of the world’s most influential aviators, as well as tracings of the famous flights they took. Orville Wright (who invented the airplane with his brother, Wilbur, and flew the first free, controlled flight), Roger Q. Williams (who made a record-breaking flight from Maine to Rome), and Jack Harding (who piloted the first plane to fly around the world) are just a few of the aviation heroes who make this globe an inspirational treasure of living history.

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Powering Us into the Skies … and Beyond The Air Zoo has a remarkable collection of engines, from those

that helped early aviation pioneers first feel the freedom of flight to those that launched our brave astronauts into low Earth orbit and beyond. Being a “space guy” since recieving my first telescope at age 7, I’ve had no more powerful experience than standing below and looking up through our Rocketdyne F-1 engine. It is amazing to consider that just one F-1 engine provided more thrust than all three main space shuttle engines combined, and it took five F-1s to get the 6-million-pound, 363-foot-tall Saturn V rocket from the Earth to the moon. What an experience to stand where three tons of fuel were burned a second by each engine to ensure that our astronauts broke the bonds of gravity to explore this new world!

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