MCC readers may recall my wife Anne and I visited the National WWII Museum as part of our 2015 road trip to New Orleans back in July. When I researched possible stops for this week’s trip to Colorado Springs, I was surprised to find they have a logical companion attraction, the National Museum of WWII Aviation. The latter isn’t owned by the same people, hasn’t been given the same official accreditation, and definitely doesn’t have the same ginormous funding, but it serves as a local hands-on educational center for students and aficionados specifically interested in World War II air combat history. Like the National WWII Museum’s Boeing Center, this one boasts its own collection of vintage WWII planes in various states of flight readiness. Unlike its rival, this one isn’t afraid to get into the nitty-gritty of engine design, aviation mechanics, comparison/contrast studies with Axis aircraft, carburetor logistics, and related vocabulary such as “pitch” and “ailerons” and “sorties”. But the important thing is you still get to look at real planes.
Pictured above is their F7F Tigercat, one of the largest intact planes on site. This particular model wasn’t deemed ready for war use until August 1945, by which time the Allies had everything pretty much under control. The Tigercat came in handy years later as a night-flying option during the Korean War. Its development occurred during WWII, but it just missed out on any real action against Nazis or Zeros. It wasn’t the Tigercat’s fault that it couldn’t be there.
Anne, major WWII history buff that she is, might’ve appreciated the museum more than I did, if only she could’ve had that chance in person.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we took our first plane ride (via Southwest, not via WWII show plane) and arrived unharmed. While my wife has been holding up the “business” end of her “business trip” travel deal here in Colorado, I’ve been spending the week running around Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas, cataloging what we overlooked on our 2012 road trip. Short, on-location MCC entries have consequently been this week’s theme.
Unfortunately the NMWWIIA (or whatever their preferred acronym is) doesn’t allow free-roam access, offering guided tours only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. Absolutely none of those time slots were compatible with her work schedule. The least I could offer to do was visit the NMWWIIA alone without her, snap extra photos for her sake, and scribble down as much info and history as I could glean from their displays and from our knowledgeable tour guide so she could review it in absentia and see if I accidentally learned anything she didn’t already know. Hopefully it worked.
If she’d been able to attend with me, she would’ve been in great company, and I don’t mean mine. Out of our group of thirty visitors, a few were veteran military pilots in their own right, as was our guide. They and several other WWII scholarly types took turns handily answering every trivia question posed to them. History is one of my weak points, so I kept my head down and my mouth shut, and did my best to capture details of the experience for Anne’s secondhand enjoyment.
Tomorrow is the grand finale to our Colorado bonus week. Anne has one last shift to endure, and I’ll have a few more hours for one last round of too many mountain photos. Then we fly home, resume normal life back in Indiana, and look forward to future recreational activities we can do together as a happy couple once more instead of as separate solo acts.
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[Side note to the two or three who might be wondering: this week’s Sleepy Hollow recap has been postponed due to the vacation noted above. I’ll have it posted as soon as I can, to stick to the commitment and complete the set, regardless of whether or not it’s relevant by then.]