Whilst not all of our group wanted to visit the museum, Wandering Beeb sold it to me on the chance to see a real life space shuttle. Not something you do everyday, I was quite happy to give up a couple of hours of mooching about New York to visit the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, located on the Hudson River in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan.
Aircraft Carrier Intrepid served in World War Two, the Cold War and the Vietnam War and is now a floating museum, telling the stories of the crew and the histories of the wars in which it served. It’s a huge museum site, complete with a submarine, space pavilion and Concord. A must for any transport, history or space geeks. I’ll let you guess which ones we are!
Heading on to the deck of Intrepid, the sheer scale was incredible- a number of restored airplanes were on display alongside gun battlements and yet there still felt like there was enough room to fit a good couple of football pitches down the middle. The planes really gave a sense of scale and proportion, making us feel like tiny ants on the flight deck.
A restored third deck gave a really good insight into daily life on Intrepid, with narrow quarters and a uniform grey covering everything, it was difficult to see how the people serving on the ship didn’t experience claustrophobia much more frequently. The contrast between the compressed lower quarters and the wide open spaces of the flight deck were huge.
Growler, the Guided Missile Submarine took us through a tour of the crews area, the torpedo room and the control room. It was hard to reconcile what must have been fast paced, pressured and crowded activity in the submarine during active duty with the calm and quiet museum experience of today.
We spent a serious amount of time walking through the various exhibits, taking loads of photographs and everywhere you looked, there was something new to see or a story to hear. The exhibits really gave a sense of people’s lives serving on Intrepid in a way that other museums sometimes fail to do. The human element was front and centre and this made it much more relatable. I spent most of the visit trying to soak up as many facts and stories as I could so that I could share them with my dad when I got home. It was the kind of place that I thought he would love.
The highlight of the visit was absolutely the Space Deck. Entering the pavilion, we were surrounded by the voices of pilots and mission control. These were actual recordings of their conversations, giving us a real sense of their experiences. The centrepiece of the Space Deck was Enterprise, a shuttle which was part of the NASA Space Shuttle Programme, carrying out test flights outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. There was a real sense of excitement in the room and the surrounding exhibits told a clear story of the development, experiences and history of the Shuttle.
Visiting the Intrepid Museum was a great way of understanding more about history, life on Intrepid and the developments that have take place to progress our journey into space through NASA and the Space Shuttle programme. It was a perfect way to spend a couple of hours and we can truthfully say that have been in the same room as Enterprise, gaining us a couple of extra geek points in any space related conversations!