Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ready For Takeoff

Field Trip: Carolinas Aviation Museum

Location: A mere 15 minutes from home. It only takes living somewhere for five years before you realize there is a museum of fun in (almost) your backyard.
Participants: Two overly-excited little boys and one didn't-have-a-clue-but-was-along-for-the-ride little girl.

Chaperone: Yours truly. But thankfully, there were several well-educated gentlemen with lots of stories and insights to answer the "What is this plane called?" and "What does this button do" and "How fast does this one fly?" kind of questions.
Exhibits: Military, civil, and commercial planes and helicopters. Both big and small aircraft; some to climb on and others to only look. 

"If you touch the plane an alarm will sound and we'll need to ask you to leave." This kept me on my toes since my boys are prone to quickly forget the no touching rule. Thankfully we were there for over an hour and left with no alarms wailing as we exited.
Highlight #1: Flying a fighter plane with ejection seats. You know, usually I'm pretty good at reading things and remembering details. Not so much this time since I was occupied with three kids who wanted to go in different directions at the same time, and remember, I was frantic to keep them from touching one of the alarm-rigged planes.
This kind gentleman did his best to answer the bombardment of questions my boys threw at him, while still patiently saying, "Please don't pull that so hard" and "It's not a good idea to push that button." This is when I thought to myself, "Maybe having a four and fiver year old climbing all over a plane with ejection seats isn't the best idea..."

Micah was mesmerized and jumped into a full action-fighting pilot role right away. Grady Lee was more cautious and instead more interested to know what various buttons and dials and levers did. Micah is the jump in and play kind of kid; Grady Lee is the learn and understand the details kind of kid.

Oh yes, and Annalyse? She was at this point still happy to eat a snack in her stroller and just watch her brothers.
Highlight #2: Viewing the Miracle on the Hudson, Flight 1549. Grady Lee had some memory of this since he'd seen clips of it on the news and in the paper back when it happened. Micah was just curious "why the wing fell off" and "why the wires were falling out of the big hole in the back."
The boys were attentive to the story of how the plane crashed, how the pilot landed it on the river, and how the people escaped and were rescued. They are all about Rescue Hero's and this was a great real-life example to learn from.
Highlight #3: Flying another fighter plane with an open ammunition storage area and visible guns. My boys are still young enough that they don't understand what war and fighting really mean and what our military is all about. This was a great way for them to learn about the power of our military and why advances in aircraft have made such a difference in how war is fought. It was also helpful to have a kind, retired air force officer explain some things to the boys in ways they could understand.
And yes, Annalyse got in on the action. She is usually told no when she tries to push buttons on the TV or the CD player, but this time she had free reign to push a myriad of buttons. Her little pointer finger was a blur of pushing as much as she could and as fast as she could!
While the boys were busy following military orders in the fighter jet, Annalyse got bored and decided to wander. It didn't take long for her to realize her brothers were still busy having a lot of fun and she went running back and hoisted herself back in the plane.

A girl has to do what a girl has to do. No such thing as boys having all the fun!
Highlight #4: Exploring the cockpit of a refueling plane. (Not quite the technical name of the plane, I know. Dad - where are you when I need you?) The boys were fascinated to see pictures of this plane from years ago when it was in the air extending its boom to refuel another plane. "It can pump gas to another plane without coming to the ground! Can you even believe that, Mom?"
Around 11:15ish, a busload of elementary kids wandered in and that my cue that it was almost time to leave. We'd seen everything indoors and because it was raining, we didn't explore the planes outside. Grady Lee has already asked one too many times today "if we can go back and see the rest of the planes if it's sunny out tomorrow?" 
Consensus: The aviation museum was fun and informative, and even my young boys learned a thing or two. Kids under six are free and that made the morning there all the more enjoyable because, yes, I would be that mom that would insist on reading every sign and watching every informational movie if I had to pay for everyone's admission. 
This afternoon the boys stayed occupied in the toy room flying their planes, landing them on the aircraft carrier, and arranging military men on window sills and couch cushions. The best part? Grady Lee somehow managed to shove a long Tinkertoy in the bottom of one of his planes "because this is the refueling plane and this long stick is the boom that puts the gas into another plane while it's flying."

Look at that. They had fun this morning and they learned something.


  1. Yet again, you have discovered a cool museum that I have never heard of! Sounds like SUCH a neat place! I will have to get the details from you sometime!! And those pics of Annalyse climbing back into the plane...priceless! Adorable & determined & with two big brothers...I'd say she's going to be a force to be reckoned with!! A very sweet force, mind you!

  2. Ha ha ha...can't you just see one of them pressing the ejection seat button! Yes, I would have been a little stressed about that myself...esp if an alarm goes off and they have to escort you out! :-) You are brave, my friend! And I'm sure the boys had a blast because of it! Little Miss is so cute helping herself into the cockpit!