National Air & Space Museum

The only good thing I can think of about paying taxes are the free museums in Washington, D.C.  My favorite is the National Air & Space Museum. Surprise, surprise. Having read about famous airplanes my whole life, it is very enjoyable getting to see them. Here’s a sampling.

Wright Flyer

The fabric is new but it’s the original Flyer. I commented on the Wright’s accomplishments in an earlier post. One of the fascinating things about aviation is the speed at which things developed. For instance, Gen Jimmy Doolittle, famed WWII pilot, had his pilot’s license signed by Wilbur Wright. Within 66 years of the December 17, 1903 first flight of the Flyer we sent a man to the moon. So, take that, rapidly paced computer industry!

Spirit of St Louis

Without a doubt, Charles Lindbergh’s solo crossing of the Atlantic for the first time, was the most stupendously received accomplishment of any kind. An incredible amount of adulation bordering on hero worship was bestowed on him. From reading his biography, it makes any of our modern day fascination with public figures pale in comparison. It simply was amazing to people that it could be done. Getting to the moon was a vast enterprise utilizing modern technology and human resources that was mathematically possible if everything went right. Packing a sandwich in an overloaded airborne crate and somehow finding France with a magnetic compass was a mind blowing thing! Of course, fame comes with a price.

There is more to see in DC than just airplanes. There is the World’s Most Beautiful Money Pit, where none but the finest people we can find, go to shovel our money down a hole as fast as they can get it from us.  Not to be negative or anything.

The Money Pit, Washington, District of Corruption

When I was a kid in the 70s our family toured DC. I recall going to the National Archives to see the founding documents. We walked in the front door, stood in line, and viewed the documents. Just to show how things have changed, and not for the better, today, the impressive front door is locked. You stand outside and go in through a little side door so you can be processed through the security screeners and then walk upstairs. I find this annoying first of all because what is it precisely that we are being screened for? With all the protection the documents have what are they afraid we are going to do? Pry them open with a screwdriver? If someone wants to destroy them they aren’t going to need to sneak inside with a bomb, they could just do a Timothy McVeigh and park a carload of fertilizer out front.

It is just striking how less free the “land of the free” is these days. Do we really have to be security screened everywhere? They do it at the Statue of Liberty too. I had to ditch a pocketknife, for crying out loud, to go see the statue. What are they afraid I would carve my initials in it? I liked it a lot better before the Security Goons took over the “home of the brave.”

Washington Monument

No longer can the public go up the Washington Monument either with security or without. Since the earthquake caused some cracks it has been closed down. Superglue that thing and let us back in! Curiously enough, while I am horrible at remembering names, I can remember numbers. From that 1970s tour I took where we went to the top, I remember being told that the monument was 555 feet 5 and 5/8ths inches tall. Officially, it is now listed at 555′ 5 1/8ths, so either I was a little off, or it sunk 4/8ths of an inch. Considering DC was built on a festering swamp, I think this is likely. Most of the disgusting swamp creatures were removed and housed in a museum with a large rotunda, and can still be viewed today when Congress is in session. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!

To get the best view of Washington, you must visit Robert E. Lee’s home in Arlington.

DC from the Lee mansion

Here, the monuments and the Capitol, as well as Arlington National  Cemetary in the foreground are clearly visible. Also visible is a jet flying the Potomac River Visual approach which used to be fun to do back before the Security Goons closed DCA to non airline planes. It’s open now to general aviation if you want to go through the painful process to be accepted. We just go to Reagan and avoid the whole thing.

Anyway, the Custis and Lee family had a beautiful and large plantation, which they lost during the War Between the States. And how did they lose it? Because Congress made it law that property taxes had to be paid in person, and since there was a war, Mrs. Lee was not able to cross enemy lines to pay the taxes. So it was confiscated for failure to pay and turned into a national cemetary, not that government would ever be vindictive or anything. The power to tax is without doubt the mightiest weapon any government has ever wielded.

 

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