Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Travel Tuesday: National Model Aviation Museum

Believe it or not, but nestled in central Indiana, just an hour north of Indianapolis, is the National Headquarters for Model Aviation and its adjacent Museum. It's on most maps and located on the outskirts of Muncie, and it's a hidden jewel of the area.

It's not huge, but it's a great way to kill an afternoon or a nice detour if you are traveling across the state.

The history of flight and model aircraft goes back much further than you might expect. See that butterfly thing in the lower middle? That's a re-creation of a 2000+ year old Chinese child's toy. An elastic-y leather strap was attached to the upper antennae of the paper butterfly and twisted tight. When you let go, it would untwist and helicopter off on a short flight.

Model aviation used to be a bigger deal before TV. If only these shops could replace a few "Game Stops" our kids would be better for it, I think.

As you can see, there's a lot of variety in style and size. If it ever flew for real (and sometimes if it didn't), someone made a model of it.

Here the kids could try their hands at controlling model aircraft. It's a lot harder than it looks.

After the museum, we went out onto the runways where a couple small groups were flying. We weren't there for a huge flying week, but as I hate crowds this suited me just fine. There were enough people around to justify the restroom facilities and a guy selling italian sausage out of a trailer. We plopped down at an empty table under a tent and ate a bag lunch. No one seemed to mind.

Above are some of the WWI models from the group that was flying.

We watched a guy flying a model Thunderbird (F-16) through an entire show's worth of maneuvers. It even had a real jet engine. We also saw a plane lose parts and its owners hop in a truck to go hunting through the nearby cornfields for the pieces (they found them). Before leaving, the kids went off to the side and flew the super cheap gliders they bought in the gift shop.

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