Chantilly Trek

Go the distance for the air-and-space rewards at the Udvar-Hazy Center

By Will O'Bryan
Published on August 15, 2013, 6:08am | Comments

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Udvar-Hazy Center: Space Shuttle Discovery

Udvar-Hazy Center: Space Shuttle Discovery

(Photo by Todd Franson)

Balloon mania: Udvar-Hazy Center

Balloon mania: Udvar-Hazy Center

(Photo by Todd Franson)

Stand within feet of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Study the belly from beneath an Air France Concorde, or climb to a higher perch and examine this unique plane from above. These are just a few of the heavy-hitters filling these enormous halls.

Do not, however, forget the interesting bits off to the side. Hugging the wall behind the Concorde, for example, just past the cup and saucer recovered from the Hindenburg, learn about ''Balloonmania,'' which reportedly had balloons taking over popular culture after a French balloon flight in 1783. Along with exhibits of balloon-inspired furniture, fabric and souvenirs, etc., Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying in France, ''All the conversation here at present turns on the balloons, and the means of managing them so as to give men the advantage of flying.''


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