Daily Archives: 26 January 2016

Strategic Air & Space Museum

Ashland, Nebraska

Atlas, in front of the Strategic Air & Space Museum

I have driven across Nebraska several times, but hadn’t stopped by SAS, which lies alongside I-80 just west of Omaha. The Curator and I made the short drive west on Saturday to check the place out. It was thoroughly worth it. The hangers are huge, and the collection extensive. The museum offers an 11am guided tour, and we landed just in time to explore the collection with a wonderful volunteer.

SR-71A "Blackbird"
The first plane one sees upon entering the museum: SR-71A “Blackbird”

Still considered the fastest plane ever built, the SR-71 was a high altitude reconnaissance aircraft, whose top speed is still classified today, although it does hold the speed record of the New York to London flight: 1 hr 55 min. It has a cruising speed of 1,320 MPH, ceiling of 80,000+ feet, and a range of 3,000 miles.

B-17G "Flying Fortress"
B-17G Flying Fortress

A heavy bomber introduced in 1935, over 12,000 B-17’s were produced up until 1945, with 4750 of them lost on combat missions. It has a maximum speed of 287 mph at 25,000 feet, and a range of 3400 miles.

A-26B "Invader"
The A-26B “Invader (front) and a B-36J “Peacemaker” (background)

The A-26 “Invader” is a medium attack bomber manufactured between 1941-1945. Maximum speed 373 MPH, cruising speed 284 MPH, service ceiling 30,000 feet, range 1,400 miles with 4,000 pounds of ordnance.

The B-36J “Peacemaker” is a strategic intercontinental bomber, of which 385 were built. With a wingspan of 230′, and a length of 162’1″, the B-36 has a maximum speed of 435 MPH at 36,400 feet, cruising speed of 391 MPH, and a service ceiling of 45,200 feet.

B-25N "Mitchell"
B-25N “Mitchell”

Almost 11,000 B-25 Medium Bombers were manufactured between 1940-1945. The museum’s B-25 had been restored to specifications of the Doolittle Raiders’ bombers. Doolittle led sixteen B-25’s on a bombing raid of Tokyo on 18 April 1942. Launched from the carrier USS Hornet, without fighter escort, the B-25’s were to land in China after bombing Japan. Fifteen of the bombers made it to China but crashed, one flew to the Soviet Union.

HU-16B "Albatross"
The HU-16B “Albatross”

The Grumman Albatross is a utility transport and air/sea rescue amphibian aircraft. Able to land on sea or land, the Albatross has a maximum speed of 270 MPH, a cruising speed of 225 MPH, and a service ceiling of 21,500 feet.
One of my personal favorites, although I’d be completely satisfied with a “Goose”.

B-29TB "Superfortress"
The B-29TB “Superfortress

The B-29 “Superfortress” was the most advanced heavy bomber to see combat in WWII. 99′ long with a wingspan of 141’3″, the B-29 has a maximum speed of 357 MPH, a cruising speed of 220 MPH, and a range of 3,700 miles. Service ceiling is 33,600 feet.

After the tour ended, I had a chance to talk to the volunteer who had just given us the informative tour. We started to talk about places I’ve visited and museums I have wandered into. Now, I consider myself fairly well-traveled, but The Volunteer, who was into his 80’s, had been all over the world and he scolded me a bit for not getting out even more. “What are you going to do? Take it with you? Might as well spend it now and get out and enjoy yourself. What are you waiting for?!
I think it’s the first time in my life that I’ve been told off for not traveling more!
Bless his wonderful heart.

The Strategic Air & Space Museum. Check it out the next time you are zipping across on I-80.

Aircraft specs credit: Strategic Air and Space Museum