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The Museum of Flight, Seattle June 30th 2012

Brandon Farris reports from Seattle's Museum of Flight.

Photos Brandon Farris & Keith Draycott

Under typically gray, Pacific Northwest skies, thousands of aviation enthusiasts joined government dignitaries at Seattle's Boeing Field to witness the arrival of NASA's Space Shuttle Crew Trainer. Seattle's Musum of Flight was successful in bidding for the Crew Trainer when the Space Shuttle was retired from active service.

The 1960's vintage Super Guppy used to transport the Crew Trainer from Houston carried out a single fly-past over the airfield then departed to the local area for a photo shoot with Clay Lacy in his Learjet. Interestingly, Clay was one of the original test pilots on the aircraft back in the 60s. After around 20 minutes the Super Guppy was lined up on finals for Boeing Field's runway 13Right and after a safe, if smokey landing was met by members of staff from the Museum of Flight, the Crew Trainers new owners.

Following the landing, the Super Guppy was towed through the airfield gates into the Museum of Flight's parking lot where is was greeted by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, along with Congressmen Jim McDermott, both of whom had fought hard to get the state of Washington a Space Shuttle. In his welcoming speach, Museum of Flight president and CEO Doug King said “Today’s Historic arrival marks an exciting step forward in the continued evolution and growth of the aerospace industry in Washington State and helps launch the next era of space flight. The Charles Simonyi Space Gallery will be one of the premier aerospace galleries in the world and will serve to inspire future generations of aviation and aerospace entrepreneurs. “

The all wooden Space Shuttle Crew Trainer was built by NASA in the 1970’s. Acurate in every detail, it's purpose was to give astronauts experience with the layout of the Orbiter's many systems before heading into space. One of the more demanding drills carried out on the trainer was emergency crew evacuation. This involved Astronauts in full pressure space suits climbing out of the hatch in the roof and repelling down to the ground using ropes. It was the only Space Shuttle Crew Trainer built and all of the 335 astronauts who flew on the real orbiter spent many hours on board .

The Super Guppy that transported this first piece of the crew trainer to Seattle was converted from a standard Boeing C-97 Stratocruiser in 1962 by Aero Spacelines Inc. N941NA (cn 004) is now the only Super Guppy to remain airworthy. NASA acquired her in 1997 from the European Space Agency and maintains the aircraft at Ellington Field near Houston. The gigantic cargo hold, which is NOT pressurized, has a maximum diameter of 25' and is 111ft long.

The Super Guppy is expected to be back at Boeing Field in either late July or early August with the largest part of the trainer. Assembly will then begin to bring the Shuttle Crew Trainer to the point where museum visitors will be able to experience what life must have been like for all of the Astronauts lucky enough to fly this remarkable machine into earth orbit.

We would like to thank the Museum of Flight for access to this historic event! 
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