• Southern Museum of Flight

    Posted on April 21st, 2011 John Dorcey No comments

    Vietnam helicopter exhibit

    The timing of our visit to the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, Alabama, couldn’t have been better. The grand opening of a new exhibit and diorama was set for this evening. The exhibit, The Vietnam War Helicopters, was the star of the event that included a symposium, music, and light hors d’oeuvres. Nearly 400 Vietnam veterans and their families attended the gala. The exhibit features two aircraft – a Bell AH-1 Cobra and a Hughes OH-6 Cayuse. The OH-6 Light Observation Helicopter was nicknamed “Loach”.  The exhibit depicts the true story of Troop C, 6thCavalry Regiment. We completed our tour of the museum
    before the early evening event.

    Lockheed Y-12

    We started our tour at the outdoor exhibit area, located two blocks west of the museum. The 22 aircraft making up the outdoor exhibit are on the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (KBHM). Airport security fence prevents up-close viewing. A rare A-12 Blackbird is among the display aircraft.

    We then moved to the museum proper. Four wings in an X-shape house the museum’s 68,000 square foot facility. A unique feature of the museum is its dioramas. In addition to the new Vietnam Helicopters, dioramas depict the history of the Tuskegee Airmen, defection of Lt. No Kum Soc (Korea), and the Lake Murray B-25. Another diorama about crop-dusting is in the planning stages.

    Radial engines on display

    Aeronca K1 Scout

    The museum displays a nice collection of early general aviation aircraft and radial engines. The museum is also home to the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame. Biographical plaques tell the stories of those Alabama aviators who made aviation history. Related to the Y-12 aircraft, the CIA’s Project Oxcart is detailed in a museum exhibit.

    The museum has many opportunities for youngsters. They provide four different Alabama School Course-of-Study Tours and workshops for both Girl and Boy Scout badges. In addition, a classroom for hands-on work and a 70-seat theater are available.

    A little off the beaten path, you’ll need to closely follow the plentiful signs directing you to the museum, or use a GPS. A nice aviation museum.

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