Lest there be an uproar, we’ll state it upfront: The popular items the public loves to visit at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, in Washington D.C. are not being given away. So there’s no SR-71 Blackbird or Space Shuttle in the offing, but there are a number of items that the museum considers surplus to the museum’s objectives or goals and they are getting rid of them in a process called “deaccessioning” in the museum field which the Smithsonian engages in periodically.
The items are all going to be transferred for free to qualified museums and educational facilities that will keep the specimens available for access by the public. The list of items available is quite varied and includes everything from small personal items such as goggles, helmets and wristwatches, to aircraft engines, including nine (!) R-985 Wasp Junior engines, and array of missiles and rocket engines, flight suits major subassemblies and even complete aircraft. Examples of aircraft available include the McDonnell XHJD-1 Whirlaway experimental twin-rotor helicopter, a Bellanca 14-13 Cruisair Senior, a Hispano HA-200 Cairo, a Martin EB-57B Canberra, even a Lockheed C-130A-45-LM Hercules and a bevy of gliders, satellite mockups, aircraft parts and even a hovercraft. Now a lot of the items are unrestored and will need work, but at a price of free, good golly!
One item that certainly catches one’s attention is the Sikorsky UH-34D Seahorse presently on display in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, which looks like you could just add fuel and go. The museum is reportedly deaccessioning it as this particular UH-34 has never seen combat, having been used as a trainer helicopter, and the museum wants to replace it with a machine that has been shot at for a more authentic telling of the story of the US Marines that used these craft. Nice to be the Smithsonian. The helicopter’s listing, being in the care of such a first-class operation indicates “All equipment that came with the helicopter that is not attached to it is contained in box A19750823002 with the exception of two items. The VIP steps that attach to the side of the aircraft and the long-handled tool to assist with main rotor blade deployment are stored inside the helicopter’s cabin.” Now that sounds complete!
Until we get the Warbirds News Museum up and running, we’ll have to settle for drooling on our keyboards while viewing the list of historic warbird and aerospace items that are up for grabs. Pity.