Once upon a time, museums were much less formal affairs, such that a young lad could sit down at the flight engineer’s station in a partially restored B-29 Superfortress and play with the throttle controls:
The time? The mid-1970’s. The place? The National Museum of the United States Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio.
The Air Force Museum has a walk-through B-29 fuselage on display currently, painted in the likeness of the Korean War-era “Command Decision”. I would imagine this display to be the same one I sat in some thirty-five years ago, though at present the fuselage is completely restored, the various crew stations sealed off with plexiglass.
If you note the “Larry + Cathy” graffiti scratched into the paint just above our intrepid and amazed youth, I suppose you can see why they had to seal it off, but there’s something lasting about actually sitting in that seat, moving the throttle and mixture controls, that conveys a sense of history as a living entity, rather than a dusty display. I doubt my lasting fascination with all things aero would be quite so potent had I not had the moment happily captured above.
I’m sure, at that moment, I imagined myself to be not unlike this gentleman, an actual B-29 Flight Engineer.
Oh, to slip the surly bonds of earth . . .
(Image courtesy of Gary Minnis via a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-commercial-Share Alike license.)