SPACE Opening February 1st

SDASM presents Space: A Journey to Our Future, opening February 1, 2011. Produced by Evergreen Exhibitions and presented in collaboration with NASA, this dynamic, multimedia exhibit looks back into the history of aeronautics and examines the many unknown questions of existence posed by future space exploration.

In December 1972, Apollo 17 took what became one of the most widely publicized and famous images of the twentieth century. The iconic view of Earth as a "Blue Marble" floating in space revolutionized public perception of our fragile planet during the rising environmental consciousness of the early 1970s, highlighting a sense of vulnerability and shared responsibility.

Nearly four decades later, our planet is still a very small and fragile part of a vast universe. We share its destiny and its limitless possibilities.

Look forward to these out-of-this-world experiences in the exhibit:

Museum Month

February is Museum Month© in San Diego County. Forty museums, historic sites, and cultural institutions, including SDASM, are celebrating by offering half-price admission to guests throughout the month. Pick up your Free Museum Month© Pass at any San Diego County Macy's store and use it all month long to receive half-price admission. Thanks to Macy's for their continued support of Museum Month©.

For more information on Museum Month and a list of participating institutions, click here.

Enroll Now For Ground School

Learn what it takes to fly!  If you want to fly but are daunted by what you think you need to learn, have no fear—the San Diego Air & Space Museum can help you get started. Enrollment has begun for our Private Pilot Ground School at the Balboa Park location, with classes beginning March 16th, 2011.

This 13-week course prepares attendees to take the written examination for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Private Pilot certificate; students can take the course either prior to or in conjunction with actual flight training.

Classes are held in the Museum’s state-of-the-art Education Center. Experienced Museum educators and an FAA certified Advanced Ground Instructor present the course using the King Schools’ FAA-certified materials, augmented with “special touches” unique to the Museum, including hands-on applications of lesson objectives.

The curriculum material for the Museum’s course is centered on DVD courseware from King Schools, Inc., recognized leaders in the aviation education community. John and Martha King, co-founders and co-owners of King Schools, are widely known within the aviation industry. At least half the people who have earned their private pilot certificates in the United States in the last several years have trained with the Kings’ video and computer media.

“Our Ground School is very basic training for the beginner or a solid refresher for former pilots,” museum educator "Rossco" Davis noted. “We aim to reach new and non-traditional audiences for pilot training—the skeptics, the unsure, the uninitiated—who might shy away from formal commercial flight schools.  We have no planes to rent, no fuel to sell, no ulterior motive—we just want more people to learn what it takes to fly!”

Classes are planned for a minimum of 10 students and a maximum of 30. Each class is held on Wednesday evening from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Classes are offered for $20 per lesson or a discounted $225 for the entire 13-session course. Museum Members can enroll in the entire course for $200. Please contact the Museum’s Education Department at (619) 234-8291, ext. 119.

For more information pick up a brochure from the Museum or click here.

New Restoration Projects

The talented SDASM volunteers will soon take on a pair of projects in the restoration area of the Museum. Museum officials have indicated that two historically significant and incredibly rare aircraft will be built from scratch over the period of the next several years.

Bell X-1

On schedule for reproduction are the Bell X-1 rocket plane, famously known as the first aircraft to break the sound barrier, and the beautiful Howard Hughes H-1 racer, probably the most aerodynamically significant flying creation of the 1930’s.

Howard Hughes H-1

Because of the widely different construction technologies, each aircraft will require different skill-sets on the part of the volunteers. These talents can only be found at SDASM where scratch built aircraft in the past have included the popular GeeBee R1 pylon racer and World War I Sopwith Pup.

Centennial of Naval Aviation Exhibit

In honor of the first 100 years of Naval Aviation, the Museum will present an exhibit beginning in early March, featuring a pictorial and textual description of significant events, technological advances in aircraft and aircraft carriers, and profiles of historic naval figures all which have made an impact on the service overall. On a pedestal at the center of the exhibit, the Museum’s flyable Curtiss A-1 Triad will call attention to the very first aircraft purchased by the Navy in 1911 and flown using a water takeoff from San Diego Bay.

Atlas Exhibit

The Museum will soon premiere an exciting new exhibit that tells the story of the Atlas rocket series from the late 1950s to the present. Both graphics and videos will detail the history of the project describing its role in the space race, the manned Mercury orbital missions, its effect on the San Diego area, and finally its enormous successes in helping launch many space projects benefiting mankind in general along with lessons in rocketry and guidance. The exhibit will join the Schirra Gallery beginning in early February.

2011 Family Days

The Museum’s Education Department is looking forward to presenting another fun series of Family Days throughout 2011.

To start the New Year with a family-friendly, hands-on activity, please join us on Saturday, January 8th for Recycled Robots. We’ll help you use ordinary household recycled items and turn them into imaginative robots. This is a fun and easy activity that is perfect for the entire family - even the teenagers enjoy this one!

Later in 2011 we will host more cool craft events, and even some extra-special, extra-large family activities such as our annual Paper Airplane Festival and Space Day. For more information on current and upcoming Family Days, please check our Family Day web page or sign up for our education e-blasts.

Digitizing the Collection: An Update

The Library and Archive’s digitization project is moving ahead at a fevered pitch! The Museum houses almost two million images documenting aerospace history, including photographic prints, negatives, transparencies, and slides. For almost a decade, one of the top priorities of the Library & Archives has been the digitization of this massive collection. However, recently this process has been significantly sped up with help from the Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC), which has purchased a rapid capture system which can digitize up to 600 images per day! To date, just over 1000,000 images have been digitized, all of which can be viewed via the Museum’s Flickr site: The SDASM archives Flickr site has received well over one million views to date!

With the photo digitization process running efficiently, the second phase of the task has commenced, cataloging and converting hundreds of rare films and videos to digital files. We have recently purchased a machine which will transfer 16mm films to computer servers. The purchase of this equipment was made possible by generous contributions from Library Patrons and BPOC. The subject matter of the films to be digitized spans the whole spectrum of aerospace history, with a focus on San Diego, including Ryan, Consolidated/Convair and Naval Aviation. These rare gems are available to the public at:

Lastly, we have begun the process of digitizing and putting online many of our rare books, including important publications from Consolidated/Convair Aircraft and Ryan Aeronautical, San Diego’s two most important Aerospace companies. These books are searchable and can be found at:

To learn more about how you can help in this preservation effort or to order high-resolution copies of our digitized material, contact the Library & Archives staff at 619-234-8291 ext. 125.

Bill Gibbs Scholarship

Three scholarships are available to graduating seniors of a Convair alumnus or seniors looking to enter an aerospace/engineering field of study. Each year, students from throughout San Diego are offered these scholarships to help ease the cost of their education.

For more information on the scholarships, click here.

We'd like to share with you how these scholarships can change lives by showcasing one example here.

Amilio Aviles: Scholar and Inventor

A 1999 Bill Gibbs scholar, Amilio Aviles graduated in 2003 from MIT with an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering. He took the summer of 2003 off without studies.

For one year he was employed as a technician at Sea Botix, an underwater robotics company.  He returned to Boston to teach graduate classes in engineering for 2 semesters. Upon his return to San Diego he attended graduate classes in aerospace engineering at UC San Diego.

Again in 2005 he took time off from studies and created a science lab where he taught science to third graders in their classroom; then he expanded his science lab to fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

Amilio spent many months in Guatemala perfecting a pedal-powered machine that creates alternative energy to power a corn grinder, water pumps, and laundry washing machine. The basis of Amilio’s inventions is bicycle parts.

He is currently employed by Applied Research Associates as a mechanical engineer of weapons.

Amilio has two goals—to complete a Master's Degree and develop alternative energy sources.

His four years of high school Spanish classes helped him communicate with Guatemalan natives and he is also thankful for the scholarships he received along the way because he graduated from college without debt. Amilio thanks Mr. Gibbs for his support through a Bill Gibbs scholarship 12 years ago.

Amilio Aviles
Applied Research Associates
San Diego, California
1999 Bill Gibbs scholar

If you are interested in increasing the reach of the scholarship funds to more San Diego county students, please consider making a donation. All donations are tax deductible. For more information on donating to the scholarship fund, please call 619.234.8291 ext. 101.

Balboa Park App

Balboa Park? Now there’s an app for that.You can now discover Balboa Park using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

The Balboa Park Online Collaborative has launched an iPhone application to guide visitors through the park’s 1,200 acres of museums, attractions, restaurants, and gardens. The app’s features include a special event guide (updated daily), hiking and biking trail routes, and a dynamic Google map that can direct you to park attractions.

Since the app’s launch in July 2010, it has been downloaded by thousands of park visitors from the United States and more than 30 foreign countries. FREE for a limited time, the application can be downloaded by searching for “Balboa Park” in iTunes or the App Store or by clicking here.