Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hill Aerospace Museum- Get Close to Some Great Aircraft

I love to watch airplanes and helicopters take off and land. I think they are amazing pieces of engineering. I once even considered a career as an aerospace engineer, but all that math got in the way. I really enjoy getting the chance occasionally when I am up in Layton, UT to watch the military aircraft flying to and from Hill Air Force Base. Watching the F-16's take off, make quick banking turns or even a barrel roll is awesome.

My love of aircraft is what first took me to the Hill Aerospace Museum, located on the northwest corner of the Air Force Base. It's not hidden. You can see it from Interstate 15 as you drive north and south. What many people don't realize as they drive by is that all those planes, rockets, and helicopters you can see are part of the FREE museum exhibit. That's right. You can get up close and personal with some of the most amazing aircraft ever built, for free.

The Hill Aerospace Museum has some great planes, including a B-17 "Flying Fortress," a B-29 "Superfortress," a B1-B "Lancer," and my personal favorite, an SR-71 "Blackbird." The SR-71 set both speed (2, 193 mph, 3,529 kph) and altitude (85, 068.997 feet, 25,929 meters) records during it active lifetime. When the final SR-71 was retired, it flew from California to Virginia in 68 minutes, 17 seconds. This is a sleek looking plane and a marvel of modern engineering and you can get an up close look.

The museum is home not only to aircraft but to over 4,000 other artifacts relating to the Air Force and aviation history, including military uniforms, flight suits, vehicles, ordnance and artwork. You can also visit the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame, honoring some of Utah's greatest aviators. There you can learn about Colonel Gail Halvorsen, the original Candy Bomber during the Berlin airlift (1948-1949).

Be sure to visit the Memorial Park and Chapel to remember those who fought and died for their country. The Chapel has a beautiful stained glass window that memorializes the 384th Bomb Group. The Chapel is open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Want to try your hand at flying an airplane? Keep your feet on the ground, my friends. They don't give rides, but you can try your hand at flying a plane in an aircraft simulator. Strap yourself into a chair and pretend to eject from the plane. If you have any questions ask one of the many volunteers who are former pilots themselves.

Make sure you set aside at least a couple of hours and quite possibly more. Around every corner and turn in the path lies another fascinating piece of aviation history.

Place: Hill Aerospace Museum
Location: 7961 Wardleigh Road, Building 1955, Hill Air Force Base, UT
Phone: 801.777.6868
Hours: Open seven days a week, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Cost: Free (donations are accepted and appreciated)

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Distance from:
Salt Lake City: 32.3 miles
Ogden: 7.7 miles
Provo: 80.9 miles
Logan: 55.8 miles

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