Sometimes the story of how we acquired an artifact is just as interesting as the artifact itself. Such is the case with the Soviet-built MiG-21 that stands in our Great Gallery. Bruce Florsheim, one of our docents and an active player in getting the MiG to Seattle, explains the historical significance of the MiG and how it ended up in our Museum. “In its time, the MiG 21 became the most produced supersonic jet in aviation history and the most produced combat aircraft since WWII,” says Florsheim. The Soviets loved it because it was rugged—it could easily take off from unprepared fields—and inexpensive to produce: you didn’t have to be a mechanical genius to build it or maintain it. Back in 1994, the MiG caught the eye of Boeing VP Jim Blue as he was touring an aircraft factory in the Czech Republic. Blue saw that a large group of them were covered in a tarp, and he asked his host what the plans were for the jets. “They will be scrapped,” said the Czech guide, and Blue, then a Museum trustee, knew that he had to acquire one. At first the Czechs refused to sell the plane, but Blue persisted, and eventually the plane was disassembled and embarked on a months-long adventure across the Atlantic, through the Panama Canal, and up to Seattle, where it was rebuilt and displayed in the Museum. The two Czech mechanics who were flown over to help rebuild it experienced an adventure of their own when Blue introduced them to American-style supermarkets.
Welcome to the
Flight Deck Podcast
Listen to all of the Museum’s best aviation and aerospace stories on the Flight Deck Podcast, a podcast that makes history personal. Episodes released every other Tuesday. Enjoy!
What do you get when a WWII American Fighter Ace has the same name as a Hollywood icon and doesn’t get rid of anything? The Lt. Col. James C Stewart Collection!
This special holiday podcast features an interview with NASA historian Bill Barry who explains how the Apollo 8 mission showed how the pursuit of space can be a unifying force in a divided world.
Please Note: During his retelling, American fighter ace Besby F. Holmes uses an ethnic slur to describe his attackers. This oral history is presented unedited as a historical artifact of one veteran's experience.
Commercial pilot Kevin Gordon returns in this episode to answer listener questions about all things aviation
Before there were flight attendants, there were stewardesses, and in this AMA episode we talk to Mary Hoy, who served as a stewardess aboard United Airlines from 1967-1973, who answers questions from our social media followers.
Eighty years ago today, Orson Welles’ 1938 broadcast ‘War of the Worlds’ used cutting-edge audio technology to convince listeners that planet Earth was under attack by Martians.
Sometime between her third and fourth year of her PhD program, Yi’s research ground to a halt. Her experiments were failing, she wasn’t acquiring good data, and even her friends were asking whether or not she could, or should, continue.
96-year-old Betty Dybbro was fortunate enough to spend one year as a WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilot) during World War Two, and in order to tell her story, we enlisted Katherine K. and Nithi B., two members of Amelia’s Aero Club who participate in aviation and aerospace activities at the Museum.