Saturday, June 12, 2010

Uraling to the Vintage Aero Flying Museum's Open House

Saturday brought us a solid overcast cover of gray clouds from which rain fell all day and temperatures in the low to mid 40s.  Perfect weather for riding a Russian Ural Sidecar Rig to see vintage aircraft, military vehicles, and WWI and WWII memorabilia at the Vintage Aero Flying Museum, near Hudson, Colorado.

Natasha and I left around 9:30 AM and we were there by 11:30 AM.  Took a couple of side detours after getting "mis-oriented" on Colorado Highway 52.  Still, no harm done except more time on mud than I expected.  You do have to negotiate packed dirt trails to get to the Platte River Valley Air Park where the Lafayette Foundation's museum is located, that was fun with water turning everything quite muddy for Natasha and I.

As you might suspect, the rainy weather produced a very light turnout for the museum's open house even though admission was free for the day.  Still, there was a decent amount of visitors perusing the equipment brought out by the WWI and WWII re-enactors, the three vintage planes safely out of the rain in the museum's hangar, the military truck and Stuart Tank and of course the offerings inside the nice, dry museum itself.

A panoramic shot of the aircraft hangar and militaria display area

I went inside the museum after taking the above shots, having downed a cup of hot coffee and still feeling a bit cold from having ridden in solid rain the whole way up to the museum.

Housed in a large adjoining hangar to the one housing their display planes, the museum is lined with display cases, showcasing the airmen on both sides of the conflicts.

Though primarily oriented towards memorabilia from the First World War, there's also stuff from the Second World War as well.

This autographed cigarette case drew my eye of course because of the BMW Roundel

There's several scale models hung off the ceiling of the museum

This great diorama shows the huge bombers from WWI, huge and yet carrying small bomb loads when compared to the stuff that followed in WWII and beyond

A model of a Fokker Tri-Wing Fighter Plane (I think)

This one, I am sure of, the American P-51 Mustang

After touring the display cases full of uniforms, weapons, photos, medals and badges and documents (all fully described of course!), I made my way back outside.  I ran into Andy, who's the president of the Vintage Aero Flying Museum and luckily he remembered me.  I've been there before with my Russian friend Andrey, seeing the "working" part of the museum where they're working to restore aircraft. 

After exchanging pleasantries, I asked Andy if it'd be OK for me ride Natasha over near the Stuart Tank on display for pictures.  He said it was and went ahead to clear the way for me.  I went to the parking lot, got my helmet on, rode Natasha slowly over to the tank.

Natasha and the Stuart Light Tank, that's Andy in the driver's compartment of the tank

As Andy was getting instruction from the tank's owner on how to drive the tank, it started raining again, and soon it was hailing on us!  Pea-sized hail, which drove everyone but me under cover of the airplane hangar.  Andy and the tank owner were of course just fine inside the tank!  Andy backed the tank, leaving wide furrows with its tracks, the tank then slowly rolled towards the parking lot.  The rain apparently got to heavy to leave the hatches open though, the "crew" bailed and ran for the hangar!

I rode Natasha over to the tank, it's still raining pretty hard mind you and got this shot, those white objects are the hail I mentioned before.

One last show of Natasha and her buddy, being hailed on.

I left soon after this, having seen most all of the stuff on display.  The ride home was in rain, of course, most of the way.  It finally stopped and things cleared up a bit about a half hour from the house.  Made it home with no incident though I've now discovered that rain makes Natasha's old drum brakes even less efficient than when they're dry.  Oh well!  Still a good day's worth of riding, Natasha handled the rain and wind with what's becoming her usual aplomb.

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