Aviation has always been pushing the edge of engineering. And military aircraft have been at the top of that extreme work since the beginning of flying. To be able to see up-close airplanes like an SR-71 Blackbird , a MIG15, or a F14-Tomcat is something special. And luckily for us there is place within a driving distance that has one of the largest airplane collections in the world. The Pima Air & Space Museum is in Tucson , AZ.
Within 80 acres you find more than 400 historic airplanes. There are six big hangars with planes on the floor as well as hanging from the ceiling. All of them are significant due to their specialized service or technical capabilities. You can see the continued development from the 1930's planes to the 1980's. Military aircraft are fast, complex, and have always been at the edge of technology. The contrast between 396 lbs Bumble Bee (the smallest airplane) and the 150,000 Lbs Aero Spacelines 377g Super Guppy is hard to imagine. Definitely something you have to see to believe.
Air travel is well represented at the museum with several samples of Boeing, Beechcraft, and Convairs airplanes. What was a luxury liner decades ago seemed far away from the "ship" that took me there. The Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is one of the best sedans in the market today. And a great traveling car. Like the airplanes in the museum, the Sonata also pushes technology to the next level. The hybrid power plant consist of a 2 liter IC engine coupled to an electric motor that working together generates almost 200 HP. Like the airplanes the key is efficiency and the sonata does a great job delivering 51 to 53 mpg. I was really impressed with its performance. The ride was smooth and thanks to the driver assistance systems the car took very little effort to drive once on the highway. Just like planes do once up in the air. There are cameras on the side and rear of the car that assist you checking your surroundings at speed. Blind monitoring, lane keep assist, heads up display, forward collision and automatic emergency braking bring relief during longer trips.
A feature I like in the Sonata is the solar roof. The panel takes the sun energy and directs it through a converter to an auxiliary battery that powers the car electronics. The panels are the most efficient in the market today with an efficiency rate of 22.8 %. On the road the sound system let me enjoy a few favorite songs and seemed to have shortened the distance travelled.
To preserve the heritage of American aviation in the museum open doors in 1976. But ten years earlier a group of men led by Colonel I.R. Perkin got together to organize and plan a facility to save a few examples of the airplanes being decommissioned. Today you need a few days to see and learn about the flying machines within this park. This is a great outing for the family as well as for those that like history. A place that is worth to drive to.