New U.S. Air and Space Museum Blasts Off in 2003

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The new center, together with the museum's current building on the National Mall, will form the largest aviation museum complex in the world. Over 9 million visitors a year visit the National Air and Space Museum, making it the world's most popular. Smithsonian staff project that an additional 3 to 4 million people a year will attend the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Airport-Based Museum to Feature Huge Hangars, Control Tower

"The architecture alone would draw crowds from all over," noted Gen. J.R. "Jack" Dailey, director of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

The new facility consists of a 70,611-square-meter (760,057-square-foot) building situated on 176.5 acres (71.4 hectares). The state-of-the-art facility's U.S. $311 million price tag is being covered entirely by fundraising—not by tax dollars.

The center's design centers on two huge aviation hangars, the largest of which soars some ten stories high and is as long as two football fields. Three viewing levels with a four-story walkway will give visitors the sensation of soaring and close-up views of aircraft exhibited at various heights.

A 164-foot (50-meter) observation tower will afford visitors a controller's-eye view of air traffic at Washington Dulles International Airport. A runway addition will connect the museum facility with airport runways so that aircraft may come and go.

In years to come, the Udvar-Hazy center will also function as an aircraft restoration center. An open-view facility will eventually afford the public an opportunity to watch specialists at work preserving priceless examples of aviation heritage.

It will all be part of a comprehensive visitors' experience which, according to General Dailey, "will create awe and respect for this nation's accomplishments and contribute to lifelong learning. I want our visitors to take home impressions, ideas, and knowledge that they will use and reflect on for the rest of their lives."

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