Museum Making: Air & Space Museum

IMG_6270One of the hidden maker spaces of Balboa Park, the basement level of the San Diego Air & Space Museum is where teams of dedicated volunteers restore, build, and reconstruct historic aircraft. A machine shop complete with welding stations, cutting, milling, and a wealth of tools and equipment required to build many of the aircraft parts that long ago stopped being manufactured, their latest project will require an estimated five years and a many helping hands.   Museum volunteers have been hard at work for over two years building the Hughes H-1 Racer – if you’ve seen the movie The Aviator, it’s the plane Leonardo DiCaprio crashes into a beet field. In reality, after being constructed in 1935, the H-1 went on to set a world airspeed record and a transcontinental speed record across the United States. At 7h 28mins and 5 seconds, it demolished the old record by two hours. It was the last privately built aircraft to set the world speed record. Work bench Volunteers and curators worked together to reverse engineer blueprints from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – which owns the original H-1, the only one ever built. So far, the project has taken over two years, with each hand-crafted component taking time, effort, and trial and error. The fuselage (body) of the aircraft alone has over 8,000 drilled holes for rivets, with over 20,000 needed for the whole aircraft. With a metal fuselage and wooden wings, the aircraft requires a diverse skill set to H-1 Wing Ribs The San Diego Air & Space Museum is always looking for volunteers to help in this department. Some volunteers have been working to rebuild entire engines, build models, and restore machine artifacts. Volunteers should be willing to learn machinery and bring their own passion for making, creating, and history – being quite literally “made” every day at the Air & Space Museum! Curators SDASM facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest