The Spirit of Flight Experience

Discussion in 'Warbird Displays' started by Bluedharma, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. Bluedharma

    Bluedharma New Member

    Nov 12, 2007
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    Hello Everyone!
    I wanted to share a recent aviation experience that I had here in Colorado, United States.

    It was March of 2006 and the Warbird "bug" had bitten. I was desperately searching for anything to do with aviation in the Colorado area.
    A quick "Google" search on the internet came up with the book "Warbird Recovery" by Gordon Page and a museum named "the Spirit of Flight Center"(SFC).
    ( "Warbird Recovery" is a very entertaining read, so if you have the chance, you should check it out. )

    A year later in June of 2007, I was lucky enough to meet Gordon Page at a local air event. Since I am a Warbird fan, he encouraged me to stop by sometime.

    I would occasionally see him at different events, always promising to visit the center.
    I did ask him one time… Why the name “Spirit of Flight”? Was the display all about WWII?

    Gordon explained what the phrase "Spirit of Flight" represents.
    The Spirit of Flight describes the symptoms of walking outside and looking up to see what is flying overhead. I could relate to that.
    He said that there were some items from WWII, but the main purpose is to educate the general public on the significance of aviation and aviation history.
    Once again he encouraged me to stop by the SFC and take a look.

    It was time for me to stop by the SFC. Last week I packed up my camera and went to check out what this was all about.
    From my experience, most museums are dark, well kept "cemeteries" with the aircraft lined up in rows.
    You know how it is… a hanger or dark room with displays behind little yellow ropes.
    I half expected this when I left home to visit the SFC.

    I could not have been more mistaken. To my surprise I could have even brought my wife and kids.
    Ah ha! Here was something that would be much better than the weekend road trip to the mountains.
    This was a place for the entire family, not just for aviation addicts. Now I am kicking myself for not getting up there earlier!

    I arrive and notice the sound of aircraft coming and going from the nearby Erie airport. The mountains in the distance stand out against the horizon.


    When you first walk into the SFC, there are several things that strike you as different from your standard air museum.
    Number one there is a Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 propeller with bullet holes front and center.
    A sign attached to the propeller encourages patrons to "please touch".
    I had to read that more than once…Wow!

    Something this rare and I could reach out and touch it. I have never seen that at most local museums.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Nearby is the tail section from the 109F-4 with the original livery and ID number.

    Everything is clean, maintained and in outstanding condition. No neglect could be found anywhere.
    The SFC has items from the WWII to the Cold War. The focus is on a time where aviation "jumped" in leaps and bounds… from biplanes to jet aircraft in a few years.
    All of the items can be examined from different angles just inches away.

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    The tone is more of a library, town square/meeting place than a hospice for dying aircraft.
    Nothing is dying here. In fact it is just the opposite.

    A quick look around and I immediately see an aircraft in the process of being restored for flight.
    It is a Fairchild PT-19 that was operated by the Tuskegee Airmen. To the left is a 1953 MiG-17A.
    Up against one wall is a Bf 109F-4 wing section with original markings! And to the right of that is a massive Martin B-26 propeller.
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    Small placards with information are displayed everywhere.
    They describe not only the aircraft type, but where it was and the history about it.
    For me this was one of the most exciting parts of the SFC. Everything has a story behind it. Everything!
    The center is alive with history and character.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    A bronze statue of Amelia Earhart looks over the W.A.S.P. section of the center, along with the collages of aviation individuals.
    Each poster shows a little bit of personality. Nearby are the personal items and the very same uniforms shown in the pictures.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Another door next to the main viewing area leads to a very nice research library. Books, DVDs and VHS tapes are available. I could spend a few hours here.
    Out back of the SFC is a landscaped yard perfect for entertaining anyone. It would be ideal for receptions, reunions, and family get-togethers.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Inside there are top-notch facilities that can be rented out. From what I understand, it is used for many local events and group functions.
    I can see why. It is easy to get to the center and it has the perfect atmosphere with the occasional local air traffic going over.
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    The ranges of displays are amazing. My daughters would enjoy the flight simulator along with the many Mickey Mouse characters displayed here and there.
    There is something for everyone.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    I even learned a thing or two from my visit. There were displays about the Messerschmitt Company and what they did after the war.
    One example that is displayed is a Bell-Messerschmitt sewing machine with the data plate attached… just like the aircraft.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    You really get a sense of how the aviation industry has contributed to each of our lives.
    The many exhibits allow you to experience not just the result of aviation, but the path progress took.

    After visiting, I was thinking of a way to describe my experience. I guess you could describe the SFC as more of a "gathering" area than anything else.
    A location for people to talk, reminisce and experience the "Spirit of Flight". It is the perfect community center for aviation fans.

    Many of us have an addiction… “The Spirit of Flight” . The SFC not only satisfies this addiction, but encourages the visitor to learn more.
    It allows you to bring and involve the entire family.
    I can only recommend that each of you take some time out of your day and visit when in the Denver-Colorado area.

    Don't put it off as I did. Go! You will enjoy it!

    Photo slide show: Spirit of Flight Center

    Spirit of Flight
    The Spirit of Flight Center
    2650 S. Main St.
    Erie, CO 80516

    Google Map Link.
    Google Maps

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