South entrance to the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum (see them on
Just before Christmas 2015, Melanie and I made a trip to Jamestown, New York, and visited Lucile M. Wright (no relation
to Wilbur and Orville) Air Museum. Is it located in downtown Jamestown at 300 North Main Street. There are plenty of areas
with unmetered parking, so save yourself a couple quarters by driving a block or two to find it. Admission is free.
Mrs. Lucile Miller Wright (LMWAM photo)
Here an excerpt from the museum's website regarding Jamestown's First Lady of Aviation:
"Lucile Miller Wright was a pioneer aviatrix. She was born in Beatrice, Nebraska and grew up in Billings, Montana. She discovered
her love of flying as a young woman. In 1922 she went on her first flight with General Billy Mitchell, who was a personal
friend of her father, Henry A. Miller. Mrs. Wright continually battled discrimination in pursuit of her passion...
her career, Mrs. Wright logged 8,000 hours of flying time in the seven planes she owned and 5,000,000 miles in commercial
aircraft. During World War II, she was the only woman courier plot in Western New York under the Civil Air Patrol Program.
She transported machine parts and defense personnel."
We were met at the door by Mr. Christopher (Chris, aka "Rocket Man") Centi, Planetarium Director and Space Science Coordinator.
Since we were the sole visitors at the time, Chris provided a very informative, personal tour. There was a good reason why
we were alone in there - unbeknownst to us, the museum had officially closed for the day a couple minutes before our arrival
(we hadn't read the hours of operation sign on the door). It wasn't until after leaving that we realized Chris stayed around
for thirty minutes just for our sake.
The collection on display at the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum is incredible - especially for such a relatively small venue
(maybe 1,000 sq. ft.), and the exhibits are very well organized and labeled. The most present object upon entering the museum
is a homebuilt Revolution "Mini 500" helicopter
(a 3/4 scale Hughes 500 look-alike). Based on information
found online, the safest place for one of these Mini 500s is on permanent static display, like this one is.
Hot air balloon gondola
Easily seen from the south window as you enter the museum is a wicker gondola basket for a hot air balloon, complete
with the overhead propane burners. Melanie and I lucked into a free balloon ride at a hot air balloon gathering in Morgantown,
West Virginia, as gratitude for helping with getting everything set up and inflating the balloon. The craft was tethered
to the ground and only went up about 100 feet, but that counts!
Space science display - Gemini capsule (left) and model rockets (right)
In the left rear part of the museum is a space display that includes some model rockets and, most notably, a near-scale
cardboard model of a Gemini space capsule. The story behind its construction is interesting. Chris said the panels were
originally supposed to be the multi-segment hemispherical dome for the in-house planetarium, but the panels did not interconnect
properly. Rather than throw them away, Chris decided to design and build this model - clever, non?
Great Lakes Trainer biplane restoration project
A Great Lakes Trainer biplane
restoration project is underway by volunteers. It is located in the museum so that visitors can watch the progress. There
are no plans to return the craft to flying condition. Instead, it will be used as a training platform and give visitors
a look structures, control cabling, electrical wiring, and other details normally hidden from view by the outer covering.
Here is a PDF file with photos of kids working on the
Great Lakes Trainer.
Civil Air Patrol exhibit
The Lucile M. Wright Air Museum is involved with the Civil
Air Patrol (CAP) and dedicates a respectable area to its promotion. According to their website, a partnership with Jamestown
Community College graduates Civil Air Patrol Cadets from the
Student Exploratory Aircraft
Mechanic (SEAM) course funded by the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation.
Hand-painted murals adorn walls throughout the museum
As you tour the museum, be sure to look on the walls up near the ceiling and notice all the murals that have
been hand-painted by volunteers.
Vintage control line airplane model
Hanging from the ceiling in various locations are model airplanes. One in particular grabbed my attention because it
is a very old control line model with an ignition type engine. I am not able to identify either the airplane or the engine,
and Chris did not know, either.
Lucile M. Wright Planetarium (MLWP photo)
Remember the Gemini space capsule mentioned earlier made from cardboard that was supposed to be a planetarium dome? Well, here is the version
of the dome with parts that fit. Chris is the mastermind behind this setup as well as many of the science-based displays
scattered around the museum. Shown in the photo is the projector setup that uses a digital projector that reflects its image
onto the dome's inside surface via a curved mirror - akin to an offset feed radio antenna. Pre-distortion software allows
the projected image to be corrected for the unequal paths that each pixel takes from the projector's lens to the dome surface.
It is a very ingenious accomplishment. The entire planetarium is contained in a room behind where the remote controlled
Mars rover exhibit sits. The kids will love driving the Mars rover (a radio-controlled model) around the red sand 'Mars
Well, I could go on for a long time reporting on everything we saw during our visit, but hopefully this information will
be enough to whet your appetite and send you on a trip to the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum to see for yourself. Be sure to
get there early enough to allow at least two hours if you really want to see everything they have to offer.
Click on map for directions from your location to the
Lucile M. Wright Air Museum.
p.s. Chris Centi has a program he personally runs called Centi
Astro-Space Activities (CASA). Per his website: "C A S A was started in its quest to improve science literacy. Space
Exploration and Astronomy is used emphasizing hands-on sensory interaction. Christopher Centi the 'Rocket Man' is owner
and CEO. He advocates for hands-on science, is an author, has appeared on TV & radio and is a member of several Space
Science organizations. He was a Solar System Ambassador for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) from 2001 - 2010."
Posted April 30, 2016