We weren’t going to do a post from here, but we have stumbled on one of the greatest museums we have ever had the pleasure of visiting, so we couldn’t skip doing at least a quick post!
Before we get to the museum, though, we spent Thanksgiving in Shamrock, TX. We enjoyed some time in a full hook-up RV park to relax, do some chores (relentless laundry – yuck!), watch some TV and YouTube, eat entirely too much, and just generally be thankful for all the wonderful people in our lives and the opportunities we have had this past year. We hope you all had a wonderful holiday! We didn’t leave the RV park for the two days we were there, but on our way out we couldn’t resist taking a quick photo of the Conoco station as we drove through town. This is the station that the gas station in the movie Cars was modeled after and it is really something to see. We hear it is even cooler at night, but we didn’t see it at night ourselves.
After leaving Shamrock we headed into Oklahoma for our first visit to the state! We turned again to our trusty Harvest Hosts and found a site at Stafford Air and Space Museum. It seems like we have gone heavy on the airplanes and space sights during our trip, so we weren’t super excited about going to another, but it was convenient and we are always up to wander a museum for an hour or two. We were so, so wrong about not being excited for this place. We are not exaggerating when we say that this is definitely one of the best museums we have ever explored. We were there for three and a half hours and could have stayed several more if the museum hadn’t closed. The strangest part to us was that it is located in a small town in Oklahoma while it is the caliber of museum we would expect to find somewhere more like Chicago or Washington D.C.! What makes this museum so great, you ask? Well, there are several things.
First, there is a real human element to the museum. It is located in Weatherford, OK, the childhood home of Lieutenant General Thomas P. Stafford. We are ashamed to say that we did not know who he was before this visit, but what a man! He is a renowned test pilot, decorated military officer, and astronaut. Throughout the course of his career he flew four space missions (including Apollo 10 to scout landing sites for Apollo 11!), was appointed Head of Research and Development at the Pentagon, and had a pivotal role in the development of Stealth Technology. It is a fair statement to say that the advancement of our knowledge of flight and space and the technology surrounding it would not be as advanced as it is without the contributions of General Stafford! Because of his accomplishments in both areas, the museum focuses on airplane flight and space flight.
There is a huge section of the museum devoted to the development of airplanes and first achieving flight, from the Wright Brothers and their contemporaries who were also working to achieve flight, all the way to modern advanced military airplane technology. There is a life-size FLYABLE replica of the Wright Flyer and so many interactive exhibits that really help you to understand the scale of undertaking and achieving flight. Just this section alone could have been its own museum that we would have been happy to pay to enter, but there was so much more…
Then, you move on to the space flight section of the museum and it is unlike anything we have ever seen. There are so many artifacts on display that actually went into space or were prepared and ready (just never launched), and we aren’t just talking about a moon rock here, or a set of gloves there. The entire Gemini 6A spacecraft is on display that General Stafford flew in when he achieved the first crewed rendezvous with another spacecraft! There is also an actual Titan II Rocket on display that sat ready in an underground missile silo in Kansas armed with a nuclear warhead. And to go along with that, there is an ACTUAL flight-ready, but disarmed, Mark 6 Nuclear Warhead on display. And the items we just mentioned are all just scratching the surface. There are so many more artifacts that were fascinating to see and learn about. Jeff was especially impressed with the F-1 Rocket Engine on display. The F-1 is the largest and most powerful rocket engine ever built, and still it took five of them to power the giant Saturn V moon rocket!
Seriously, we could go on for hours about all the amazing displays and fascinating things we learned at this museum, but we will stop here and just say that it is a must stop for anyone traveling through Oklahoma. It is amazing enough that if we were back through the area, we would stop again! If flight and space interest you even a tiny bit, you will not be disappointed with a visit!
Until next time!