Famed Flying Wing Joins Collection

There is a new shape in the skies of the San Diego Air & Space Museum; a dark and ominous reminder of the menacing Nazi Luftwaffe has been raised in the shadows above our WWII P-51 "Mustang" - the last "secret weapon" of Hitler's Germany, the remarkable Horten Ho-229 jet-powered flying wing.

Built by the same technical team that created the modern day B-2 Stealth bomber, this 1:1 scale reproduction of the wartime Nazi prototype aircraft was donated to our Museum by the Northrop Grumman Corporation following its use in a National Geographic Special presentation, called Hitler's Stealth Fighter.

Aeronautical Engineer Alexander Lippisch began a slow-burning revolution in aviation design in 1921, when he began building an all-wing glider for sport use. By 1924, several of these abbreviated aircraft were flying in Europe. Lippisch's early designs evolved into the remarkable and dangerous Messerschmitt Me 163, the only rocket-powered fighter to see service.

Across the Atlantic, Lippisch's American contemporary, Jack Northrop, wrote in 1929 that a flying wing aircraft would out-perform conventional designs with wings, fuselage, and tail assembly. Jack Northrop's company went on to build the giant XB-49 jet bomber as a flying wing in the late 1940s.

The Horten brothers (Reimar and Walter) of Germany reached the same conclusion and for the rest of their lives these men's fates were tied to their beloved flying wings. The Hortens, following the lead of Lippisch, created functional tail-less designs of their own, culminating in an amazing and unexpectedly advanced prototype fighter in the last year of WWII, the Horten Ho-229.

As wartime fortunes for Germany waned, Reichmarschall Hermann Goering issued a 1943 demand for an all new combat aircraft, capable of flying 1000 km per hour over a range of 1000 kilometers, with a one-ton bombload. At the time, these criteria could not be met by any aircraft in production anywhere on Earth.

The Hortens seized this opportunity to present a flying wing concept that could easily be developed to fill all three of these engineering benchmarks. The blueprints evolved quickly from the elegant gliders of the H I to H IV series into the amazing jet Ho-9. Three of these aircraft were completed, a glider and two jet-powered machines. The glider flew well and after the delayed delivery of Jumo 004 jet engines, testing began on the second aircraft. Tragically, an engine failure caused a fatal crash on its second flight.

The third aircraft, now known as the Ho-229 V-3, was nearly complete at that time. As Germany collapsed, the V-3 (Versuchs, or Test Aircraft 3) was never finished and remains so to this day. A set of wings that may well have been intended for the V-3 were found amid the devastation of the Nazi war machine. For a short time after the war, these wings were modified to fit the center section during an exposition of captured German and Japanese warplanes. In time, the aircraft was discarded - coming to rest among dozens of similarly unheralded warplanes in storage at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum.

In 2008, engineers at Northrop were heavily involved with building the massive B-2 "Spirit" bomber and other stealth projects. The B-2 flying wing, with almost exactly the same dimensions as Jack Northrop's earlier XB-49, has proven his theories were both viable and prescient. His designers, engineers, and technicians spent decades overcoming the challenges of all-wing aircraft so it is not surprising that these professionals were aware of the earlier Horten project, languishing in the Smithsonian's Silver Hill collection.

The team that built the super-secret B-2 turned their attention to recreating the Ho-9 (also known as the Ho-229) in full scale, to investigate the stealth properties of the WWII prototype. Their efforts were detailed in a June 2009 National Geographic presentation, Hitler's Stealth Figher.

Although minimizing radar detection range was not a consideration by the Hortens during the war, several details of their Ho-229 V-3 displayed an inherent, if unintended, stealthiness. The wings blend into its body; the exhaust ducts are shielded and buried, hiding the exhaust from below; and finally, wood was used to a great extent in the construction. These factors would have given the Horten flying wing an RCS, or Radar Cross Section, that was calculated to be 20% smaller than the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter, although it was almost triple its size.

Stealthy by design or accident, the Ho-229 was so futuristic for its day that it remains a lightning rod for researchers and aircraft developers. In its new home at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the Horten will continue to astound visitors and remind them of the dangerous enemies we overcame in 1945. As a testament to Alexander Lippisch, Jack Northrop, and the Horten brothers, our Ho-229 serves as an example of the most distinctive aircraft to ever take to the air, the flying wing.


Summer Camps are Filling Up Fast!

There are a limited number of spaces left for our camps. You can sign up for a camp online or download the Aerosummer brochure and mail the completed form to the Museum. Visit our summer camp page here.

Scholarships are now available for a limited number of remaining summer camp places, courtesy of the San Diego Space Society, The EAA Young Eagles Program, and the San Diego Mars Society. Send your child to camp for FREE!

For details on scholarship applications or other questions, please call the Education Department at 619.234-8291 ext. 119 (8:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.). SDASM welcomes children with disabilities and other special needs; working with Kids Included Together we ensure that all children have access to our programs. Please contact us so we can make accommodations to allow your child's successful participation.


Charity Golf Tournament & Summer Nights Bash

Join SDASM and the San Diego International Airport as we celebrate our 26th Annual Charity Golf Tournament. Tournament Day starts at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 12 at the Coronado Municipal Golf Course. The Summer Nights Bash festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 15 at SDASM. Your participation as a player and contributor will help us provide quality educational experiences to students in the San Diego region through scholarships, exhibits, classes and outreach. Your participation in the golf tournament is your ticket to the Summer Nights Bash as well. Summer Nights Bash only tickets are available through our website. For more information and to sign up on line please visit our website.


Race to the Moon... A Celebration with Space Legends

Join two of the finest Museums in our nation, SDASM and USS Midway, for a special once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and honor our country's space legends -- the astronauts of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Their accomplishment was in direct response to President John F. Kennedy's May 25, 1961 call to reach the moon within the decade. They succeeded against all odds and in 2009 we celebrate the anniversary of Apollo 9, 10, 11 and 12. But it was the entire body of work, those three primary space programs, which accomplished so much that we will honor. Please see the website www.racetothemoonsd.org for more information or to purchase tickets.

Apollo 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16 and 17 will be represented!
Confirmed Astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz space programs:


Swap Meet a Success

The Curatorial and Restoration Departments hosted our 11th annual Swap Meet at our Gillespie Field annex on June 6th, which was a roaring success. We had over 300 visitors come out to shop at 71 vendor tables and several people brought models for a contest. This year we tried something different by offering food and drinks for purchase, which was very well received. With food, a model contest, items for purchase and the airshow going on across the field there was a lot to see and do, which made for an exciting day.


SDASM Announces 2009 IAHF Inductees

Annually, the SDASM inducts selected individuals and groups into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame (IAHF). After careful consideration we have chosen six individuals and groups that have made inspiring contributions to the aviation and space industry. The 2009 inductees for the IHAF are:

Sally Ride - America's first woman in space

Cliff Robertson - a pilot, Academy Award and Emmy-Award-winning screen star as well as founder of the Cliff Robertson Work Experience, within the EAA

Blue Angels - United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron

Clay Lacy - founder of Clay Lacy Aviation, one of the largest corporate jet providers in the country

Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) - a group of women pilots whose primary responsibility was to ferry military aircraft as well as fly target tugs and performed various other aviation tasks for the US military during WWII

Sean Tucker - renowned aerobatic pilot

Frank Robinson - founder of Robinson Helicopter Company and helicopter designer

Lockheed Brothers & Skunk Works - Brothers Allan and Malcolm created a series of aviation companies that eventually led to the present day Lockheed Martin Aircraft Company. Skunk Works was a "black projects" division of that company


Preserving the Voices of History

SDASM Library & Archives launched a new preservation project with five other San Diego museum partners. This collaborative oral history project will help record the area’s rich history before the stories are lost forever. Participating partners include the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, the USS Midway Museum, the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center, the Flying Leatherneck Museum and the Naval Helicopter Historical Society.

The project relies on qualified volunteers to interview and preserve stories of men and women responsible for contributions to all areas of aviation and aerospace technology, with a focus on the history of those from the San Diego area. To date nearly five hundred original taped interviews and transcripts have been obtained and are maintained in local museum archives.

To raise awareness of San Diego’s aviation history and the contributions of individuals who reside here, and to share these valuable resources, the six museums are developing a traveling display that will be exhibited in local libraries, schools, airports, and universities. The traveling display will emphasize the role San Diego has played, and continues to play, in aviation through the use of photographs, documents, and interviews. Visitors may listen to such well-known aviation and aerospace pioneers as Charles Lindbergh, Eddie Rickenbacker, T. Claude Ryan, Astronaut Walter Schirra, as well as numerous pilots and others who describe their wartime experiences.

The cooperative group is also consolidating an index of their collections in SDASM’s online catalog, AeroCat, which is located at www.sandiegoairandspace.org.


Discovery Channel Partners with SDASM

The Discovery Channel has graciously given the Museum six of the full-size reproductions that were created on the popular Doing DaVinci television series. These reproductions are based upon the designs and sketches of the famous 15th century inventor and painter Leonardo da Vinci. Some of the featured items include a catapult, car, and the war wagon. Click here to find out more about this show and these machines!


SDASM Awarded Conservation Bookshelf

Treasured objects and artifacts held by SDASM's Library & Archives will be preserved for future generations with help from the IMLS Connecting to Collections Bookshelf, a core set of conservation books and online resources donated by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS has now awarded almost 3,000 free sets of the IMLS Bookshelf, in cooperation with the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH).

"When IMLS launched this initiative to improve the dire state of our nation's collections, we understood that the materials gathered for the Bookshelf would serve as important tools for museums, libraries, and archives nationwide," said Anne-Imelda Radice, Director of IMLS. "We were both pleased and encouraged by the overwhelming interest of institutions prepared to answer the call to action, and we know that with their dedication, artifacts from our shared history will be preserved for future generations."

The IMLS Bookshelf is a crucial component of Connecting to Collections: A Call to Action, a conservation initiative that the Institute launched in 2006. IMLS began the initiative in response to a 2005 study it released in partnership with Heritage Preservation, A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America's Collections. The multi-faceted, multi-year initiative shines a nationwide spotlight on the needs of America's collections, especially those held by smaller institutions, which often lack the human and financial resources necessary to adequately care for their collections. Click here for more information on the Connecting to Collections initiative.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.


New Exhibition Coming in September

To the Moon: Snoopy Soars with NASA takes a look at the history of Apollo 10 and the Peanuts characters' role in that flight and in the NASA Manned Flight Awareness safety program. It features a one-third-scale model of the Apollo command module from the Johnson Space Center, an Apollo-era flight suit, the actual image of Charlie Brown that flew aboard Apollo 10, and a special children’s area for creative play. This new exhibition is scheduled to open September 4, 2009.


Centennial Celebration at Valley Center History Museum

The Valley Center History Museum is honoring pioneer aviator Donald Gordon on July 25 at 10:00 a.m. on the site of the historic air strip in Valley Center. This celebration marks the centennial flight of Gordon, designer and builder of four different aircraft within six years of the Wright Brothers flights. For more information visit www.valleycenterhistory.org and click "our historic sites" or call (760)749-2993.


NASA Astronaut Starts Agency's First Bilingual Twitter

From NASA’s website: NASA astronaut José Hernández, set to fly aboard space shuttle Discovery in August, is providing insights about his training on Twitter in both English and Spanish. It will be the agency's first bilingual Twitter.

Hernández, who considers Stockton, Calif., his hometown, grew up in a migrant farming family, travelling each year between Mexico and California. He did not learn English until the age of 12.

Hernández, whose Twitter account is astro_jose, can be followed at: www.twitter.com/astro_jose

"I was inspired to pursue a dream to one day work in space while listening to the radio news about space exploration while working in the fields of northern California," Hernández said. "I hope to spread that excitement about space, science and engineering and inspire others to follow their dreams by sharing my activities and interacting with my followers on Twitter."

Selected as an astronaut by NASA in May 2004, Hernández will make his first spaceflight on the STS-128 shuttle mission that will continue assembly of the International Space Station. During the mission, he will oversee the transfer of supplies and equipment between the shuttle and station, assist with robotics operations and serve as a flight engineer in the shuttle cockpit during launch and landing. It will be the first shuttle mission to feature two Latino astronauts. Danny Olivas, who also is of Mexican descent, is among Hernández's six crewmates.

For a list of NASA missions providing updates on social media Web sites, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/collaborate