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There are many air- and space-related sites on the Whirled Wide Web, but the following links will be good for starters.


For now - and it most likely will change someday - spaceflight is primarily a government-subsidized activity, which in this country means the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I'm including a link here to The NASA Homepage; it has links to individual homepages for various NASA facilities, such as Langley, Ames, etc. As much fun as it is to browse the main website (especially if you have some fancy video and audio software), it can also be rewarding to visit the other facilities, too.


One of the best museums in the country devoted to aviation and space - if not one of the best in the World - has to be the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum. Their collection of aircraft and spacecraft is incredible, and they're committed to displaying it in the best way that they can, so that you and I can get the most out of it. I would be committing a grievous sin if I didn't include a link to The Smithsonian NASM Homepage. Check out the site, make a vow to visit the Museum itself someday, and watch for an auxiliary facility to open at Dulles Airport in 2003, to display the big stuff. (A bit of trivia: The projected cost and completion schedule for the Museum were finalized in 1966. Over the next ten years, they added some stuff that weren't in the original plans, like a theater and handicapped access - and they still got it done $200,000 under budget and two days ahead of schedule. Not bad for a government project, huh?)


While we're on the subject of museums, I would also be remiss if I didn't include a link to The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, one of the top three space museums in the country (at least one of the other two is located at a NASA facility). Their collection is astonishing, and includes some Russian artifacts as well as American (and an SR-71 spyplane -- not directly space-related, but the plane could get up there pretty high, so why not?) It also includes an IMAX theater; they used to precede each show with a lecture on vertigo, and with the IMAX setup, they weren't kidding. The Museum also excels at the restoration of space artifacts, and has done superb work creating props for Hollywood productions - at least those that care about getting it right; scroll through the credits for Apollo 13 and the From the Earth to the Moon miniseries, and, sure enough, The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center gets mentioned. Located in Hutchinson, Kansas (How this state rated a first-class museum like this is actually discussed on the site.), and I strongly urge you to visit. You won't regret it.


The Boeing Company signs my paychecks, so I'll include a link to their homepage. Working for them can be irritating at times, but, really, I am very much aware of just how important Boeing has been in the history of aviation. Aircraft like the 247, the B-17 (a personal favorite) and the 707 have managed to revolutionize contemporary aviation.


I will say this about Boeing: they have one first-rate Museum of Flight. It's located at the main Boeing plant in Renton, Washington (which means that I haven't had the chance to actually visit it yet, sad to say). The Museum's collection is quite large and not only includes many examples of significant Boeing aircraft, but of aircraft that were built by other manufacturers (even those manufacturers that Boeing hasn't acquired yet). These aircraft are lovingly restored by volunteers, some to flying condition. The Museum even has a replica of the Red Barn, the first Boeing manufacturing facility, from back in the days when wood and canvas were primary building materials for airplanes. Here is a link to the Museum of Flight's homepage, with information on exhibits, aircraft in the collection, upcoming events, the Museum's store (in case you like to buy Stuff) and information on how to obtain a museum membership.


My first employer upon leaving college waaay back in prehistory (1975) was with Cessna Aircraft Company - specifically in the Single Engine Division. Ah, those were the days - you had to wait in line to get computer time, if you used the computer at all; the company was turning out so many airplanes that they were lined up on the ramp like a car dealership. Not to mention that I actually learned to fly through the employees' flying club. Things have changed. For several years the company even quit building single-engine planes. Along the way, Cessna was acquired by Textron and has recently resumed turning out the single-prop jobs, but not as many different models as before. At any rate, here is a link to Cessna's home page.


Somewhere in 1979 I quit Cessna and moved over to Learjet, basically for a salary increase (never a good reason to change jobs, in my opinion). I do admit that there was some prestige in working for what - at the time, at least - was possibly the classiest puddle-jumper around. "Learjet" was synonymous with "luxurious business jet" then, and it may still be now, no matter if the jet in question really is a Learjet or not. I used to pass through the factory area every day while I went to work, and there was a bulletin board there with dozens of pictures of celebs that flew Lears; it was always interesting to look at. Things changed at Learjet, too. The orders dried up, and soon the factory was silent during Second Shift. In 1982 (and later in 1983) Lear decided they no longer needed my services and showed me the door; I ended up at Boeing, and here I still am. Lear has been bought by a Canadian company named Bombardier, and that's the official name for the jets now. But for me they're still Learjets. Here is a link to the Bombardier Learjet home page.


(hopefully not concerning new employers)