National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, 1100 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433 (near Dayton). Open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. FREE admission!
This museum is HUGE and the one thing to check out is the recently installed Space Shuttle Exhibit. It features the Crew Compartment Trainer (CCT) and is located in the Cold War Gallery. It allows visitors to experience the size and shape of an actual space shuttle orbiter by entering the payload bay and looking into the flight deck and mid-deck levels.
As you are hiking along through the museum on your way to the Cold War Gallery you will see a huge mosaic that was created to represent the famous photograph of the Wright Brothers' First Flight. If you actually look at the individual pieces you will see they are each completed mini-artwork pieces. There is a summary of how many are used for the mosaic.
Before you actually follow the ramp to the shuttle you should go to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Learning Node. This gives a brief overview of all the aspects of the shuttle. An explanatory video continually plays and you can go there and begin at any time.
The Space Shuttle Crew Compartment Trainer (CCT) is a highly accurate space shuttle simulator. It was used for astronaut training, practicing on-orbit tasks, training for emergency escapes, and evaluating engineering issues. In CCT-1, astronauts learned how to operate the shuttle's many systems with the guidance of highly skilled instructors. CCT-1 could sit level or tilt straight up to simulate pre-launch operations.
On the CCT's top level is a very accurate "flight deck" or cockpit with seating for the commander, pilot, and, during launch, two mission specialist astronauts. The flight deck has all the same instruments, panels, lights, seats, and switches found in a real orbiter. The instruments are non-functional, but they look and feel like real ones. A closed-circuit TV system also aided training.
The lower part, or "mid-deck," replicates a main space shuttle living and working area. It features sleep stations, a galley, storage lockers, a bathroom, equipment stowage racks, and a side hatch. Emergency escape equipment such as an inflatable slide and an extendable pole used for parachuting away from the shuttle helped crews learn escape skills. Three mission specialists and one instructor could be seated in the CCT's mid-deck.
A totally fun activity is to Fly The Space Shuttle. It is user friendly and offers three different levels of skills….I chose the novice. The photos, the films, the graphics are amazing. I tried two efforts and crashed the shuttle both times!
Go to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force soon to check this fascinating exhibit out! You’ll be glad you did!
Please note: The Dayton CVB has compensated me for my thoughts on the Space Shuttle Exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.