Don Shares His Recent Visit to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

On Monday, March 18, I was in Washington, DC, for our meeting of the Council of Philatelists for the Smithsonian National Postal Museum (NPM). The council is a great group of volunteers who work with the NPM staff to improve the experience for our visitors. I’ve been on the council since it started in the 1990s. It’s exciting for me to get to help our stamp collector museum – and I’ve met some great people over the years.

We started our meeting at the Air & Space Museum. This museum is currently being rebuilt with new exhibits. It’s a long project that’s been going on for years and is still in the works. We toured Air & Space to get ideas for our own NPM. Since the museum is still under construction, they limit visitors. You have to sign up online for a ticket. Here’s a photo collage of a handful of the neat things I saw on my visit…

We walked upstairs to see the airplanes and to get a birds’ eye view of the museum.
The museum has changed and now shows fictional planes from movies and TV. Here’s an X Wing fighter they used in the Star Wars films.
Here’s me and Elliot Gruber (Executive Director of NPM) with Saturn and the rest of the Solar System above us.
Downstairs they honor the fearless Airmail pilots who risked life and limb to deliver our mail.
It was a dangerous job to fly the mail. 35 pilots died in the seven years from 1919-26.
Council member Gordon Eubanks and I took a photo with the Wright brothers. (Gordon is an expert collector and real nice guy.)
The Wright brothers were odd geniuses. They figured out how to fly and tried to sell their airplanes, but didn’t let customers see the plane fly. They didn’t sell many at first, but sold a few after showing the plane flying.

Did you know it was only 66 years between the Wright Brothers’ first flight and America’s first moon landing? What a short time to go from “not able to fly” to “flying to the moon and back!”

Neil Armstrong had these fragments of the Wright brothers Flyer in his pocket when he walked on the Moon.
Apollo 11 spacesuit displayed with Armstrong’s famous “One small step for man” quote.
US #649 pictures the Wright Flyer
US #2842 pictures the first man on the Moon

With our tour of the Air and Space Museum complete, we returned to the NPM. There we met the new Director fo Stamp Services, Lisa Bobb-Semple. She told us about the 2024 stamp program and she’s really jazzed by stamps. I love it when people running our stamp program are passionate about stamps. She dropped a few hints on the stamps coming out to celebrate America’s 250th Birthday. We also found out the NPM is opening a new exhibit in late summer telling the story of voting by mail. Did you know soldiers voted by mail during the Civil War? Great timing for the exhibit with our election coming up in November (2024).

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