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National Museum of the U.S. Air Force to open interactive space shuttle landing simulators as first items of CCT exhibit arrive

  • Published
  • By Rob Bardua
  • National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force visitors can now test their skill at landing a space shuttle orbiter with the addition of two new interactive space shuttle landing simulators.

The simulators, which open to the public July 25, are free of charge and allow visitors to "fly" the shuttle to a safe landing using a joystick and video screens, and receive feedback on how well they piloted the shuttle.

Designed by Historic Space Systems of Danville, Ohio, the simulators are representative of a space shuttle commander's and pilot's stations, and feature a reproduction of the forward portion of the space shuttle flight deck with internal cockpit dimensions that replicate its actual size.

The simulators are a great way to experience how it feels to be a space shuttle pilot, said John Fongheiser, president of Historic Space Systems.

"Sitting in the simulator is very much like sitting in a real shuttle," Fongheiser said. "It's not every day that you can say 'I landed the Space Shuttle!'"

The simulators are among the first items the museum has received in support of the Crew Compartment Trainer exhibit. Display Dynamics, Inc., of Clayton, Ohio, is currently in the final design phase of the CCT exhibit, which includes fabricating the payload bay, access ramps and structures, and engine and tail sections. The firm expects to build and install these in the museum by late fall.

Recently, Display Dynamics began work on building the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Learning Node in the museum, which will be a dedicated educational area adjacent to the CCT exhibit.

Designing and building the CCT exhibit and STEM Learning Node has had its own unique set of challenges and opportunities, said Display Dynamics President/CEO Veit Parker.

"A tremendous amount of thought and planning has gone into the layout and engineering of the CCT structures to ensure the highest level of safety as well as visual fidelity, and we've also had to factor in an efficient form of modularity for when the exhibit is moved and permanently installed in the museum's fourth building," Parker said. "All things considered, this has been a wonderful experience for our team of exhibit designers and technicians, and we look forward to helping the museum bring the popular history of the shuttle program to Dayton in a memorable way."

According to Museum Director Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jack Hudson, the progress on the CCT exhibit, STEM Learning Node and surrounding items is exciting.

"We are very much looking forward to the completion of the CCT exhibit and what it will offer our visitors," Hudson said. "The exhibit will be the only one of its kind in the world, and will not only tell the Air Force story in space, but motivate and inspire our youth towards Air Force and STEM careers."

The museum recently announced that interior views of the CCT's flight deck and mid deck have been added to the ACI Cockpit360º app available from the museum and AeroCapture Images.

The free app features high-definition panoramic photos of more than 20 cockpits from many well-known aircraft on display at the museum. Several of the aircraft, including the CCT, include multiple "nodes," showing various interior views. The app is available for free download from the Apple iTunes store, and a Droid version is planned.

The interior photos also are available on the museum's interactive 360-degree virtual tour, which allows users to explore the museum at their leisure through factsheets, supplemental information and educational tools based on the museum's collection. The tour is available at A list of links to the interior images is available at

In addition, the museum unveiled one of five reproduction space shuttle flight suits supplied by the David Clark Company Inc. of Worcester, Mass., which will also be part of the expanded space exhibit.

"The suit replicas we made for the museum demonstrate the progression of pressure suit technology from the Gemini G4-C, to the S1032 Launch and Entry Suit (LES), and through to the S1035 Advanced Crew Escape Suit (ACES)," said David Clark Design Manager Shane Jacobs. "Visitors to the museum will have the opportunity to appreciate the technology integral to aerospace crew protective equipment."

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day). Admission and parking are free. For more information about the museum, visit

NOTE TO PUBLIC: For more information, please contact the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at (937) 255-3286.

NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information, please contact Rob Bardua at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-1386