LONDONDERRY, NH — After departing Manchester-Boston Regional Airport on May 1, New Hampshire students have traveled to more than 20 nations around the globe.
Through the magic of a flight simulator and streaming video, they’ve flown over the Eiffel Tower in Paris, traversed the Sahara Desert, visited the Taj Mahal in India, and skirted Mount Everest.
But on Saturday, Aug. 15, the Aviation Museum’s ‘Around the World Flight Adventure’ will return home to Greater Manchester, where it all began 3½ months ago.
The arrival will be made in style, via a vintage DC-3 airliner flying into Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, home of the Aviation Museum. The aircraft will carry volunteers and guests who played a part in creating the museum’s virtual ‘Around the World Flight Adventure’ learning program.
The landing, scheduled for 12:30 p.m., will include a water cannon salute from the Airport Fire Department and fanfares from a brass ensemble from the Manchester Community Music School. Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig will present a Key to the City to the intrepid voyagers, and pre-sliced cake will be served to attendees. A food truck will be on hand for those who want lunch.
Bringing in an actual DC-3 is a nod to the virtual aircraft used on the flight simulator throughout the globe-spanning adventure: a C-47 transport, the military version of the legendary twin-engine airplane.
The ceremony will take place on the grounds of the Aviation Museum, located at 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry. The event is free and open to the public; all attendees will be required to wear face coverings and observe social distancing.
Live music will begin at mid-day. Attendees to the family-friendly event are encouraged to arrive no later than noon to find parking and get into position for the ceremony. Spectators will be encouraged to cheer at the arrival.
Introduced in the 1930s as the first all-metal airliner, the DC-3 became one of the world’s most popular aircraft, with thousands produced for commercial and military use. Many still fly today; the aircraft coming into Manchester was delivered new in 1940 to American Airlines, and later spent many years flying for Provincetown-Boston Airlines. It’s now privately owned and based on Cape Cod.
The Aviation Museum will be open on Saturday, Aug. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Regular admission charges apply: $10 adults; $5 for age 6-12; age 5 and under, free; discounts for seniors and active military.
The museum’s ‘Around the World Flight Adventure’ was launched this spring as a virtual learning program to help teachers and students engaged in remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
To create the program, volunteers used the museum’s Elite Flight Simulator to fly virtual segments around the globe, which were then posted online at the Museum’s Web site, www.nhahs.org. Each segment included recorded video of the takeoff and landing, narration along the way, a pilot’s log with extensive notes, and links to more information.
The program remains available online at www.nhahs.org.
“We began sending information about the project to schools this past spring, as soon as we started planning it,” said Jeff Rapsis, executive director of the Aviation Museum. “From the data, we know we had an average of several hundred viewers for each segment through the end of school in June.”
Flight segments introduced students to the basic science of flight and the craft of piloting, but also explored topics of geography, history, and culture.
“Even with students and teachers at home, our ‘Around the World Flight Adventure’ enabled us to carry out our mission to inspire students about flight,” Rapsis said. “It’s turned into something with a lot of potential for us to expand our reach to a lot of new people.”
The project also included two livestream events: a Memorial Day flight over the D-Day landing beaches in Normandy, France, which was highlighted by Newsweek Magazine and which attracted about 1,000 viewers from around the world; and another on the 4th of July over Italy exploring the connections between Ancient Rome and the founding of the United States.
Volunteers creating the program chose to make the journey in a virtual DC-3, as rendered by the simulator, for the aircraft’s historic significance and aesthetic appeal.
“We decided a great way to bring the program to a conclusion was to bring in a real DC-3 carrying in the people who created the program, and to invite everyone to celebrate the arrival,” Rapsis said.
Sponsors of the ‘Around the World Flight Adventure’ include Wire Belt Co. of Londonderry, Brady-Sullivan Properties, Terrafugia, Signature Flight Service, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, and Queen City Rotary. In-kind support is provided by Jay D. Carter IT Services and So Many Aircraft; the program was also funded by a NH Humanities Grant.
The DC-3 arrival and ceremony is subject to weather conditions.
The Aviation Museum of N.H., located at 27 Navigator Road, Londonderry, N.H., is a non-profit 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization.
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. The museum’s education outreach program aims to inspire today’s young people to become tomorrow’s aviation professionals and aerospace innovators.
For more information about PlaneFest, the Around the World Flight Adventure, or the Aviation Museum, visit www.aviationmuseumofnh.org or call (603) 669-4820. Follow the Aviation Museum on social media at www.facebook.com/nhahs.