The Franklin Air Show is the Franklin Institute’s latest interactive exhibit. Designed to resemble an air show, it combines play with physics to teach the principles of flight.
Visitors can test physical laws while playing games at carnival-style booths in two of the hall’s three sections.
The exhibit is designed to give visitors a true appreciation for aviation through the realistic displays.
“You really feel like you’re at an air show,” said Evan Welsh, Director of Public Relations and Communications at the Franklin Institute. “We like to create an immersing experience.”
The Franklin Air Show required seven months of renovation. Most of the aviation exhibits were donated by a museum in Cape May, NJ.
The 1948 T-33 jet trainer remains as an exhibit on cockpit controls. The T-33 is one of the most successful jet trainers ever made. It was used in the military for pilot training and target practice.
The gem of the exhibit is the Wright 1911 Model B Flyer No. 39. The double-winged aircraft and engine were restored to their original condition this year at Aeroplane Works in Dayton, Ohio.
The Institute’s Flyer is the most intact Wright airplane in the world. Kite-like in appearance, the Wright “B” has a wingspan of 39 feet and can reach a speed of 43 miles per hour.
The Institute’s Model B was one of 20 Model B Flyers built.
The 92-year-old airplane flew 748 flights and logged 312 hours and 34 minutes total airtime before the museum acquired it in 1933.
The exhibit is comprised of a Midway, Pilot Training Area and a Hangar.
While the museum showcases artifacts belonging to Orville and Wilbur Wright, it gives precedence to communicating the principles of flight.
Most of the Air Show’s displays were designed for children. The Shimmer Wall, for example, has visual appeal and gives visitors the opportunity to bang on drums with a mallet.
Each display, however, provides an explanation for the phenomenon, leaving room for more advanced students to learn.
“I don’t think you can come into this room and not learn something about flight,” said Welsh.
Tech-savvy exhibits include the flight simulator and Design a Plane. The FS 2000E flight simulator enables visitors to try maneuvers like a 360-degree roll.
Design a Plane is a computer program where would-be engineers piece together an airplane.
After choosing parts and making the necessary adjustments, visitors test their designs in the “wind tunnel” to see if they will fly.
For the young and young at heart, the Franklin Institute constructed a platform for folding and flying paper airplanes.
Visitors can build their own or try one of the museum’s designs. The platform includes a launch pad, which shoots the airplanes into the air or onto the floor, depending on the shape of the plane.
The Franklin Air Show premieres alongside the national Centennial of Flight celebration of the Wright Brothers’ first flight over Kitty Hawk, NC, on December 17, 1903. The exhibit will be open to the public on October 18.
For more info visit www.fi.edu.
Lauren Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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