Originally formed in 1970 using the name “Flying Circus Aerodrome”, a group of aviators decided to fly replicas of WWI aircraft to simulate the \”barnstorming\” activities of that post war period. However, this proved to be a daunting task as these rather fragile aircraft required a considerable amount of time, effort, and money to keep them flying. As a result, many members of that original group, worn out from the effort, decided to close down the operation.However, a core group of die-hard aviators refused to give up – they bought the rights to \”The Flying Circus\” and reorganized. This core group, using relatively newer and more robust aircraft like the Waco and Stearman primary trainers, became the founders of the present day \”Flying Circus\”. This airshow has carried on since that time as a demonstration of the \”Golden Years of Flight\”, which is characterized by the barnstorming era which came about in the years between the two World Wars.About all that has changed from that day to this, is that the Flying Circus has grown not only in its membership, but also in the variety and number of aircraft in our inventory. The aerial demonstrations, thrilling acts, and the ride hopping operations, which were central to the barnstorming era are still an essential part of our program.With the exception of the Flying Circus silver and black 450 hp Stearman, all of the the aircraft on the field are privately owned. And barring the occasional work or family commitment, their pilots bring them to the field to share them with the audience each year, from the first Sunday in May through the last Sunday in October.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport is the companion facility to the Museum on the National Mall. The building opened in December, 2003, and provides enough space for the Smithsonian to display the thousands of aviation and space artifacts that cannot be exhibited at the Museum in Washington, DC. The two sites together showcase the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world.Visitors to the National Air and Space Museum\’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center admire the Monocoupe 110 Special Little Butch and other aircraft hanging from 10-story-high trusses.The Center was named in honor of its major donor, and features the large Boeing Aviation Hangar in which aircraft are displayed on three levels. Visitors can walk among aircraft and small artifacts in display cases located on the floor, and view aircraft hanging from the arched ceiling on elevated skywalks. Many engines, helicopters, ultra-lights, and experimental flying machines are on display in a museum setting for the first time. Among the aviation artifacts on display are the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest jet in the world; the Boeing Dash 80, the prototype of the 707; the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay; and the deHavilland Chipmunk aerobatic airplane.The space shuttle Discovery is the centerpiece of the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the National Air and Space Museum\’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.The James S. McDonnell Space Hangar opened in November 2004 and displays hundreds of famous spacecraft, rockets, satellites and space-related small artifacts. The centerpiece of the space hangar is the Space Shuttle Discovery. Other space artifacts include the Gemini VII space capsule; the Mobile Quarantine Unit used upon the return of the Apollo 11 crew; and a Redstone rocket.In addition, the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower provides an excellent location from which visitors can watch air traffic at Dulles Airport. The Center also offers the Airbus IMAX Theater; flight simulators; food service; a museum store; free docent tours; daily educational programs; and school group tours and activities are available.A special feature of the Center is the National Aviation and Space Exploration Wall of Honor. Situated along the entryway to the Center, the Wall of Honor is a permanent memorial to the thousands of people who have contributed to our aviation and space exploration heritage. Names of honorees are inscribed on the air-foil-shaped wall, which will continue to grow in the years to come. One name could be yours!
The Smithsonian Institution\’s National Air and Space Museum maintains the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world. It is also a vital center for research into the history, science, and technology of aviation and space flight, as well as planetary science and terrestrial geology and geophysics. The Museum has two display facilities. The National Mall building in Washington, D.C. has hundreds of artifacts on display including the original Wright 1903 Flyer, the Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module, and a lunar rock sample that visitors can touch. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center displays many more artifacts including the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay and Space Shuttle Discovery. The Museum currently conducts restoration of its collection at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Suitland, MD. For years, this facility also displayed many of the Museum\’s artifacts kept in storage. Only guided tours allowed access to this portion of the collection. The new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center displays most of the aircraft and spacecraft previously stored at Garber, many never seen before in a museum setting. The Center will also eventually become the Museum\’s primary artifact restoration facility.