I’ve always been a fan of flight. Watching birds migrate for the winter, seeing airplanes take off, watching clouds of gnats bounce in the breeze. It doesn’t really make a difference. Flying things intrigue me, they always have.
So when this year’s Boy Scout Sub-in trip to OMSI was called off for a scheduling conflict, I was thrilled that we managed to book the Air and Space Museum for the night instead. Imagine this: you go in to the museum after it closes, eat dinner, get a private tour of the facility, watch an IMAX movie about fighter pilots, build model rockets, sleep under the Spruce Goose, launch your rockets, and then close out the weekend with a guided tour of the new space museum.
I don’t know about you, but that was a dream come true! I was able to spend the night next to an F-4 Phantom jet, I got to tour two amazing museums, and I got to watch high-speed aeronautics on an IMAX screen!
Oh, and I was there to supervise 20 Boy Scouts, too. Details …
But I did learn a lot through the experience. First and foremost, it feels very disingenuous to tell a 12-yr old not to do something you’re thinking of doing yourself. “Hey, don’t touch that airplane!” “Get out of that cockpit!” “Don’t climb on the lunar lander!” On the other hand, knowing what you would do if left to your own devices makes it far easier to predict the creative ways a teenager will find trouble on their own.
Being mostly a big kid myself, it was easy to understand the allure of the roped-off displays with all their lights, levers, and knobs. It also made the experience more magical for me when I realized how well-behaved my Scouts were in comparison to my own inner child. Refreshing, really.
The museum is just a collection of decommissioned and out-dated aircraft. Most of the displays would probably have been relegated to scrap if not saved by savvy collectors. Still, a genius in Evergreen Aviation realized that opening a museum would be a real money-maker. Families and aviation aficionados like myself shell out top dollar to stand next to legendary aircraft like the B-17 Flying Fortress, the SR-71 Blackbird, and the Spruce Goose.
It took a different kind of genius to come up with the sleep-over idea. We paid over $50 per Scout for this event. Well worth it for our program, and a financial gold mine for the museum. Who knew running private events after you close up for the day could be so profitable?