Magenta Visit to the Hiller Aviation Museum

Field Trip Blog, Part II

Last Thursday, in the afternoon, the Magenta Band went to visit the Hiller Aviation Museum. We saw all of the museum exhibits and also completed an hour-long flight simulation program. Below are pictures from this part of the field trip and students’ descriptions of their afternoon experiences.

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From Max Mercier: Walking into the Hiller Aviation Museum, if you love planes, is like walking through the gates of heaven. There are full-size planes and scale models everywhere, and it’s suffocating in the best way possible. Helicopters, jetpacks, parts of airliners, stunt planes, drones, they have it all. But by far my favorite thing about the Hiller Aviation Museum are the simulators. Aside from their main educational simulator, they have a Boeing 777 simulator, which you use to attempt a landing at SFO. I sat down in the comfortable leather chair, put my hand on the throttle and grabbed the yoke. Immediately I noticed just how sensitive the 777-300 really is. Even touching the yoke too forcefully caused a noticeable change in heading. I rose up to a higher altitude, flew over downtown Millbrae, and got myself lined up for final approach. At this point, I had three people gathered around me, saying things like “You’re not gonna make it!” and “You’re too far left!” But I kept my going. I pulled back the throttle, brought the plane to an airspeed of 170 knots, lowered my flaps down to 30 degrees, and held it steady as the runway got closer and closer. I finally brought the throttle all the way down, lifted the nose up, and set my back wheels on the runway perfectly. It was at this point where I questioned if music is what I should be focusing on right now—that landing was not too shabby.

From Ian: It was a cloudy day, and we were rushed up the stairs onto the cold metal bleachers. The instructor waved his model airplane frantically about, describing the dangers of flight. He described his stories of past pilots who had crashed flying inverted and sharing the controls with friends. Abruptly he stopped the discussion to explain how you “can’t fly like James Bond.” Gripping the controls with both hands, he gave a demonstration wagging them back and forth with a smug look on his face. Then, gripping them with one hand and another hand over the throttle and mixture controls, he proclaimed: “This is the correct way to fly!” With this, the conversation was over, and we were instructed to grab “flying buddies.” I grabbed my comrade Aidan, and we were hustled over to the cockpits. Starting the flight, Aidan flew gracefully in the air but, lacking the speedy decision making of a real pilot, he handed the controls over to me. After a short time, we immediately descended into a dive with me at the controls. We flew inverted after a short time. We heard a rattle from the engine, and we were stalling. Drifting towards the ground, I pulled back and recovered gracefully.
The instructor then grounded the aircraft, exclaiming that he would “never fly with us at the wheel.” Aidan got out of his seat in a sluggish fashion, clearly angry about my flying technique. “Back to the bleachers!” the instructor yelled about how the plane had to be “one inch from the runway and the dashboard of the plane,” and no more than “70 knots.” Then we went back into the air. Now at a course to land at the runway, Aidan was not listening to the instructor and disobeying the 1-inch command. At a course faster than 70 knots, he started his landing not center on the line. He touched down, skipping the white line and careened toward the side of the runway. We changed seats, and I was instructed to land at the runway. With graceful maneuvers, I moved from side to side to meet the white line. As I touched down on the line and turned off the engine, my task was complete.
sFor a final time we met at the bleachers, the instructor describing what he called a “bonus ride.” This ride went past the Bay Bridge and over Alcatraz and then under the Golden Gate. The flight was short, and back on the ground, he giddily pronounced us real pilots.

From Max Mayman: As Cory stared out the cockpit, a single drop of sweat fell from his chin onto the yoke. The rumble of the Cessna 172 was loud in his ear along with the radio he held next to him. As I watched Cory, I became the commentator: “We now see Cory approaching the landing strip… We have seen a very overly aggressive approach to the previous landing strips in other tournaments, but, this being the finals, we have to see if he will still make this mistake.” In his head, he repeated “70-1,” “70-1.” This was the line that Cory’s instructor had told him before the flight. “You must stay at 70 mph at all times when approaching the landing strip, and you see one inch under the runway in order to land safely.” His instructor’s words echoed in his brain as he closed his eyes. Pushing the yoke down, Cory started to descend. The rumble of the plane shook the insides of the plane around. Cory lowered his speed as the Cessna’s wheels touched the ground. He did it! In celebrations, Cory put on the throttle and started doing doughnuts. This was a monumental day for Cory.

From Cassandra: At the Hiller Aviation Museum, there are models of some of the Wright Brothers’ planes. One of these planes, built of white cloth and wood like the original, sits directly above the entrance hall. Inside there are mostly younger planes, along with a few old gliders. But next to a model flown by a motorcycle racer just a few years after the Wright Brothers, there’s an alcove with three televisions and an airplane simulator. There are no modern controllers, just two sticks attached to a black box. It was, after all, the world’s first airplane. The plane started out in the air over an unrecognizable city, farther up than the real version ever went. As I flew over skyscrapers and CGI landscapes, a few things were obvious about this early airplane. Seeing something in the distance, to my left, I tried to turn the plane towards it. To my surprise, the plane barely moved. On my second try, the plane moved far enough for the plane to be on my right, and almost tipped over. I S-curved over to the tower, failingly attempting to get towards it. I missed by over a mile, but right in front of me I saw something blue. I did not know what it was, and I still do not. The blue building, low and flat just over the hill, seemed far more interesting than the bland buildings behind me. It was only then that I realized that I was falling. At first, I had been high over the tops of the buildings, but when I skirted past the tower I was half way down. There simply wasn’t enough altitude to get over that hill, and see whatever CGI creation waited in that blue building. I attempted to pull up, before releasing the final failure of the world’s first airplane. It could not fly up. I crashed into a tree, and the simulation reset.

From Josh: After exploring the Hiller Aviation Museum, as a group we were led into the Restoration Shop part of the building. Imagine a workshop with pieces of wood and metal, some in the shape of airplane wings and tails, and some just in long sheets; saws of all sorts standing around in parts of the large, but cramped space; filing cabinets with small metal nuts, bolts, screws and nails along with others that I have yet to know the name of. Milling around or a few 50-60-year-old guys, conversing about planes and enjoying themselves to their heart’s content while rebuilding and restoring planes.

From Justin: This Thursday we went to the Hiller Aviation Museum. At the Hiller Aviation Museum, we got to experience a flight simulator. We went through an introduction to flying planes, then got to fly them ourselves. My partner Ally challenged me to do flips in the plane. I accepted the challenge and pushed the right rudder and moved the wheel to the right and started the spin. The plane started to spiral downwards; then, as I got close to the water, I stepped off the rudder. I skimmed across the water and straightened the plane out. Ally attempted to spin twice and crashed both times. This was the best part of the Hiller Aviation Museum for me.

From Malia: Ever wanted to run around in a plane without being handcuffed by the flight attendants? Ever wanted to see what the cockpit of an airplane was like in the 70s? When walking into the Boeing 747-100, I saw empty seats with out of date blue red and white stripes. The seats were much bigger with more cushioning than the slim ones there are now. There were only four seats per row, unlike the packed planes trying to fit as many seats in one row as possible. The exhibit is only the front of the plane, so this could be due to first class. The personal screens on every seat back were nonexistent.

From Cory: Yesterday we went on a field trip. I love obvious sentences. The field trip was really fun. Did I mention that I love obvious sentences? All memes aside, it really was a quite enjoyable and educational experience. The part that made the biggest impression on me was when we arrived at the Hiller Aviation Museum. The museum had all sorts of really awesome exhibits, and we even did a really cool flight simulation program, so I’m pretty much an expert pilot at this point. Feel free to hire me. The coolest thing at the museum in my opinion was a huge screen that had Google Earth showing on it. It had the whole Earth globe, and you could use this controller to fly around and zoom in on places. I found the United States on the world globe, and zoomed in until I found San Francisco. From there I was able to find Redwood City, where I live, and I was able to spot Sequoia High School by looking for their sports field. I pass by that school on my bike route every morning, so I was able to trace the roads back to my house. It was really amazing, being able to zoom in and see my house, and my backyard, and my patio and chicken coop, and know that I got there just by zooming in from space. So this means that if I was flying around in space, I could find my house without too much trouble. I think that’s pretty crazy. Not just pretty crazy. That’s amazing! The whole trip was really awesome, and I learned a lot from the wind tunnel and Hiller as well.

Next field trip: Ropes Course next Monday!