LONDONDERRY, NH — A local aviation museum’s new remote learning program is taking off in a big way.
The ‘Around the World Flight Adventure,‘ an online education outreach program developed by the Aviation Museum of NH, was recently featured by Newsweek Magazine as one of five ways in the U.S. to commemorate Memorial Day via livestream.
The program, which follows the adventures of a virtual flight from the Aviation Museum’s home in New Hampshire as it circles the globe, was recently awarded a $5,000 CARES grant from N.H. Humanities.
The virtual flight, staged on the museum’s flight simulator, departed Manchester on May 1, heading to Europe via the historic “North Atlantic Ferry Route” that linked the U.S. with Britain during World War II.
New segments are posted twice a week at the museum’s Web site; so far the route has taken students and teachers over such iconic sites as the mysterious ruins of Stonehenge, Buckingham Palace in London, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Future flight plans include Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and India’s Taj Mahal.
The flights are being made on the simulator in a virtual C-47 transport plane, a vintage two-engine propeller aircraft from the 1930s that played a major role in World War II.
“At a time when teachers and students required to stay at home, we created this outreach program to be the ultimate field trip,” said Jeff Rapsis, executive director of the Aviation Museum of N.H., a non-profit museum and learning center.
In addition to the science of flight and other STEM-related topics, the program touches on geography, history, culture, and even local cuisine as the program works its way around the world.
The program includes a continually updated Educator’s Guide available to all public and private schools. It can also be downloaded from the Museum’s Web site at www.nhahs.org.
The program, intended as a resource for Granite State students and teachers, has attracted attention from far beyond New Hampshire.
On Memorial Day, the Museum staged a two-hour livestream, using its flight simulator to fly from London, England over the English Channel and then low over the beaches at Normandy, France, where the initial D-Day landings took place on June 6, 1944.
Prior to the holiday, Newsweek magazine included the event as one of “Five Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day Via Live Stream.” The attention prompted nearly 1,000 viewers to join the livestream, which one viewer commented was “the best way to honor the men and women on Memorial Day that I have ever spent. I am privileged to fly along.”
“The Newsweek mention put us right up there with the Grand Ole Opry and Kathie Lee Gifford,” Rapsis said. “We were delighted our project was seen as a way to mark this solemn holiday in a year when many traditional events couldn’t take place.”
The two-hour livestream remains online at www.aviationmuseumofnh.org, where new segments of the ‘Around the World Flight Adventure’ are posted and all prior flights archived. Access is free and open to all.
The flight, which is currently exploring the nations of Scandinavia, will continue even after school lets out of the summer. The journey will continue until the museum reopens to the public, expected later this summer. After that, the flight will return to the Aviation Museum.
For the arrival at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, the museum hopes to arrange for an actual C-47 aircraft to land in Manchester and for a public celebration to be held.
The program’s success has prompted the Museum to seek support to improve and rerun it next fall, when most schools are expected to be back in session. Depending on feedback, it may become a permanent part of the Aviation Museum’s educational outreach efforts.
“In responding to the coronavirus pandemic, we may have invented something new,” Rapsis said. “By taking cutting edge technology of today’s flight simulators and creating an educational travel adventure program, we’ve come up with a new way to teachers and students to explore the world.”
In addition to the grant from N.H. Humanities, the Aviation Museum’s ‘Around the World Flight Adventure’ program has received support from Wire Belt Co. Inc. of America; Terrafugia, Inc.; Signature Flight Services; Brady-Sullivan Properties; the Queen City Rotary of Manchester, N.H.; and Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. In-kind support is provided by Jay D. Carter Information Technology and SoManyAircraft.com.
The Aviation Museum of N.H., 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 and inspiring tomorrow’s pioneers, innovators and aerospace professionals. The museum is currently closed to the public due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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