Aviation Museum’s new online program puts ‘distance’ in distance learning

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Aviation Museum Jay Carter installs software needed to render and fly a virtual DC-3 on the Elite flight simulator. The Museum’s around-the-world flight adventure departs Friday, May 1 from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

Schools are closed and stay-at-home orders remain in place. But why not use technology to fly over the Eiffel Tower and visit other world landmarks?

That’s the idea behind the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire’s new distance learning program: a virtual around-the-world flight that can be followed online by everyone as it progresses around the globe.

Using the museum’s professional grade Elite Flight Simulator and Lockheed Martin’s Prepare 3D terrain software, the flight will take off from Manchester on Friday, May 1 for an extended round-the-world odyssey.

Through the Museum’s website, would-be travelers can soar over iconic world landmarks and touch down at exotic airfields as the flight works its way around the world. Along the way, they’ll learn history, geography, and information about the world’s nations, cultures, and people.

Portions of the journey will trace routes flown by historic aviation pioneers, including the course followed by famed aviator Amelia Earhart in her 1937 attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

“Using our flight simulator to journey around the world is a fun way for students of all ages to explore and learn about the world we live in,” said Jeff Rapsis, the museum’s executive director.

“Visitors use the museum’s flight simulator all the time to fly over southern New Hampshire and northern Mass. But the terrain software literally has the entire planet mapped, and so with schools closed and people staying at home, we figured we’d fly around the world.”

The virtual aircraft will be a Douglas DC-3, a vintage two-engine propeller plane that played a major role in early aviation history, and which continues to be flown to this day.

“The DC-3 has a range of about 1,000 miles, so our journey will be broken into many segments,” Rapsis said.

The first part of the global journey will follow the historic North Atlantic Air Ferry Route used during World War II, making stops in Canada, Greenland, and Iceland before reaching Great Britain and Europe.

The flight will be managed by Aviation Museum volunteers, with the actual flying to be handled by a “celebrity guest pilot.” The pilot’s identity will be kept a closely guarded secret until the around-the world flight arrives back at Manchester.

“We’ll return to our home field after the Aviation Museum reopens to the public,” Rapsis said. “That will allow us all to be on hand to welcome home celebrate this globe-spanning flight with the landing of a real plane, and welcome home our special guest celebrity pilot.”

The Aviation Museum is currently closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic; a re-opening date hasn’t been set, which means the flight will be exploring the globe for an undetermined span of time.

“Because we don’t know when we’ll reopen, we’ll need to be flexible,” Rapsis said. “Instead of taking the fastest route, we hope to give students and educators a new kind of ‘distance learning’ through aviation, which means visiting a great variety of destinations.”

Fellow voyagers may follow the flight’s progress online at www.aviationmuseumofnh.org. After take-off on Friday, May 1, a new segment will be posted every two days.

To provide an idea of what each segment is like, the Museum prepared a sample flight over Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. It can be viewed online at https://vimeo.com/409770453

The Aviation Museum of N.H. in Londonderry is housed in the original 1937 passenger terminal at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, the museum is dedicated to celebrating New Hampshire’s role in aviation history and inspiring tomorrow’s pioneers, innovators and aerospace professionals.

For more information, visit www.aviationmuseumofnh.org or call 669-4820. Follow the Aviation Museum on social media at www.facebook.com/nhahs.

Categories: Education, Things to Do