Thursday, December 18, 2008

So much change - it's hard to keep up!

In the past three months the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History has progressed by leaps and bounds! The building is enclosed, interior walls are up and painted, there is lighting, flooring, and electrical. There are PLANES already moved onto the site (oh, B-29, how we've missed you!), and exhibits in preparation for installation. There have been countless hardhat tours where our volunteers, supporters, partners, and community members, have been able to preview this dynamic space and the future it holds. It is truly an amazing feeling for all that have had the opportunity to go see it.

Over 150 new photos have been uploaded to our flickr page, with many more to come!

However, the most moving day thus far was October 31, 2008. It was a momentous day. One of those days where you were proud to say "I was there."

It's one of those situations that I really think you had to be there to experience, but there were moments where we had serious chills and tears our eyes. Those of us in attendance got to be a part of both National and New Mexican history.

What happened? The National Atomic Museum's B-52 bomber, that has been sitting in the same spot at the old museum location on base for THIRTY FIVE YEARS, had one of the final phases of deconstruction done. The wings were removed from the fuselage (the body).

Three of the largest cranes in New Mexico were on hand to hold up the ends of the wings and the box in the center that holds them together. The staff from World Wide Aircraft recovery worked tirelessy all morning to prep to remove the FOUR BOLTS (each the size of an average adult forearm) that held the wings to the plane. Then, as if the many hours that passed hadn't yet, the wings and the body were no longer one. The fuselage was towed out from underneath the wings, and the wings then lowered in preparation to be seperated.

Sometime in December or January, Worldwide Aircraft Recovery will be back to tow the B-52 to its new home at our new site. Not only will this be momentous because of the new museum, but also because this plane will be towed there ON ITS OWN WHEELS. All you history, military, and science buffs out there - get your cameras ready! This is going to be some kind of an event!

While we can't have people coming up onto the new museum property, you CAN park yourselves in the parking lot of the Costco accross the street and take as many photos as you'd like! Details and information to come!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Belated Update from volunteer Dick Perry

August 29th, 2008

"The road appears to be essentially complete. The equipment was being moved out this morning. The pads for three aircraft (B-52, B-29, F-105) are all poured. The B-52 and B-29 pads have the forms off and the excavations are backfilled. The F-105 is finished, but the supports for the pole and the top forms will not come off until next week. The forms for the A-7 are set, and the rebar appears ready to be installed. The fill on the bottom of the forms needs to be built up and compacted before the rebar goes in. You'll see from the photos that the concrete is set quite low in the ground for the F-105 and especially for the A-7. There is a "hill" in that area of the outdoor exhibit park that still needs to be leveled. When that is complete, the pads will be at the correct height relative to grade -- they promised! I have confidence. If the hill remains, we will likely have a pond on the south side of the building when we get a good rain.

For those who have not been to the site in the latter part of this week, I offer the attached photos. The windows are in except for the one closest to the entrance. Insulation is going up on the roof and walls, and it looks as if the first of the HVAC equipment in the ceiling is being installed in the entry area. There is plumbing appearing above the floor -- looks like the start of restroom drains.

The drains around the inlets have been excavated (adjacent to the settling pond, at least), and there are the beginnings of forms and rebar for the inlets along the road and in the staging area. Let's hope we don't get too much rain this weekend."

The photos referenced will be added to the photo page today, in addition to some great shots of the limo - now under restoration! More blogs to follow! check back!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Update on the Aircraft Move

from our friend Richard L. Perry, P.E.
Senior Manager, Corporate Engineering Practice
Sandia National Laboratories

Board member Jerry Adams will lead a team of volunteers over the coming weekend to start cleaning the B-29. We need to remove the rather massive amounts of pigeon remains from the aircraft in order to reduce the likelihood of corrosion and preserve the structural integrity of the airframes. After this weekend's activities, we will have a better idea of the extent of the cleaning required.

Worldwide Aircraft Recovery has returned to Nebraska to collect some required tools for the B-52 disassembly and move. They will return in a couple of weeks with towbars and additional trailers for the move.

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History - plane relocation project

This week NM Millwrights used the largest crane in New Mexico (100 ton capacity) to move the Atomic Cannon and Mk17 shape to make room for maneuvering the B-52 so that the wing can be removed. The center section of the Atomic Cannon weighs 110,000 pounds, and the Mk17 weighs 41,000 pounds.

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History - plane relocation project

Board President Chuck Loeber and Project Manager Harry Mumma report that the work to pour the concrete pads on the new museum site for the first aircraft displays (B-52, B-29, A-7, F-105) has begun. WWAR will fabricate the steel stands needed for the displays as part of their contract.

Monday, August 11, 2008

First planes, no trains, now automobiles!

National Museum of Nuclear Science and History - Manhattan Project exhibit

One of the new exhibits for the new museum will be a life size diorama of the Trinity Testing site, enclosed in the Manhattan Project exhibit. This exhibit will be packed with valuable information, but also filled with valuable artifacts! Two of those items are our Atomic Autos. We’ve been lucky to have come across two vehicles that were used by the US military in the 1940’s.

1941 Packard Clipper

1941 Packard Clipper
Parked at the Trinity Testing Site in 1945.

“Ask the man who owns one”

This was the famous slogan that stood for one of the finest automobiles produced in America. It’s no wonder that a 1941 Packard Clipper, converted into a custom limo by Fitzjohn Coach Company, was chosen to transport Manhattan Project Scientists from the railway station in Lamy to Los Alamos. It also carried personnel to the Trinity base camp for the testing of the first atomic bomb. The car was donated to the Museum and requires extensive restoration.

1941 Packard Clipper
Sitting on a flatbed in Albuquerque, NM. Waiting to be restored.

1942 Plymouth Special Deluxe

1942 Plymouth Special Deluxe
Plutonium being unloaded, on the Trinity Testing Site in 1945.

This is the type of vehicle utilized by the US military during the 1940’s. This particular model was the vehicle used to carry the plutonium core for the “device” – the first atomic bomb – to the Trinity site for the historic test that would change the world. This particular model was purchased by the museum to be restored to military function and look for this exhibit.

We were lucky enough to have this vehicle painted by Car Crafters here in Albuquerque, New Mexico - just in time for our annual fundraising event. It was towed to and from the event with the help of Macy's Towing. The annual Einstein Gala was a one of a kind event, partly due to the presence of this beautiful vehicle. All our donors, friends, and volunteers got the pleasure of a vintage photo opportunity with the Plymouth.

1942 Plymouth Special Deluxe
Fresh paint and on display with long time volunteer Dick Justus at the annual National Atomic Museum Einstein Gala fundraising event, March 2008.

More pictures of the Atomic Autos project can be found here.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The most vital support beam in this whole project.

This weeks blog post is about our esteemed board president Chuck Loeber. Chuck has worked diligently on this project, but also spent many years working diligently in our field. Chuck is the author of Building the Bombs: A History of the Nuclear Weapons Complex. (which is available in the museum store)

About the Author:

"Charles Loeber worked as an engineer on the design and production of nuclear weapons for more than 40 years. He served in a variety of organizations, including the Department of the Army, the Department of Energy, and Sandia National Laboratories. Over time, his interest in the history of the Nuclear Weapons Complex grew into a hobby, and he became an authority on the subject."

This book is known as being one of the difinitive resources on the topic, being ordered and shipped every day from our store to buyers all over the world.

Take a moment to listen to this great radio interview he did. Scroll down or enter "loeber" in "find a page" to hear his spot on the show.

Resources like Chuck are one of the many reasons that this museum is truly a treasure. We are lucky to have experienced individuals with decades of knowledge as partners, docents, board members, and volunteers. We can't thank them enough, but hope to at least honor them by the creation of this new museum. It will be filled with information and knowledge of fields and topics that they themselves pioneered.

And don't forget to check out our photo page. This project is really moving - thanks to Chuck and his team!

Friday, July 18, 2008

A good looking crew

We'd like to introduce you to the crew of Worldwide Aircraft Recovery. This is the team responsible for relocating eight external exhibits from our former museum location on Kirtland AirForce Base to our new site. As mentioned in the prior post, these exhibits include the B-29, B-52, F-105, and A-7 airplanes along with the Bomarc, Mace, Matador, and Snark cruise missiles. In addition, we plan to relocate a MiG-21 from Tucson, Arizona to our new site.

Ben Nattrass and his team from WWAR arrived at KAFB on Wednesday July 16th, and they immediately began work. The photo shows Ben and his team starting to disassemble the B-29.

If all goes well, they will complete their disassembly work by the end of August and move these exhibits onto our new site in September. They will then reassemble everything.

Big thanks to Ben and his team for taking on this project! The staff, board, and volunteers of the National Atomic Museum can hardly wait to be reunited with our planes and missiles when we move and become the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History next year.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The New Museum Takes Flight!

The National Atomic Museum has contracted with Worldwide Aircraft Recovery Ltd. of Nebraska to move two of its largest artifacts: a B-29 and a B-52 bomber, both of which have been stored at the Museum’s previous location on Kirtland Air Force Base. The planes will be moved in early September, after disassembly.

The planes will be hauled by tractor-trailer 2 miles to the new Museum location at Eubank and Southern Blvds. SE in Albuquerque, adjacent to the Sandia Science and Techology Park and KAFB. The route will take the planes from their current location off of Wyoming Boulevard to the new site, where a new Museum is under construction. The B-29 is expected to be moved first, on a Saturday in early September.

“Moving these significant artifacts represents a huge step toward becoming the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History,” said Jim Walther, Director of the Museum. “We know the public will appreciate having these giants available for viewing. We hear repeatedly how eager people are to see these important historical aircraft.”

The B-29 was a revolutionary aircraft, the first intercontinental bomber. At 70,000 pounds, it was the heaviest production bomber built. Its 135,000 pounds fully loaded required an 8,000-foot runway for takeoff. It could cruise above 30,000 feet, out of range of flak and most enemy fighters.

The Boeing Stratofortress B-52 has been the main long-range heavy bomber of the Strategic Air Command. Affectionately known as the BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fella), the B-52 first flew on April 15, 1952. Nearly 750 B-52s were built when production ended in October 1963. On January 18, 1957, three B-52Bs completed the world's first non-stop round-the-world flight by jet aircraft, lasting 45 hours, 19 minutes, with only three aerial refuelings en route. A B-52 also made the first known airborne hydrogen bomb drop over Bikini Atoll on May 21, 1956.

Worldwide Aircraft Recovery Ltd. has provided assistance in a number of projects, including the entire Strategic Air Command Museum and its B-52, B-36, B-58 and an Atlas missile. They will move eight pieces for the Museum: four aircraft and four missiles. In addition to the B-52 and B-29, they will move an F-105 and an A-7 airplane along with the Bomarc, Mace, Matador, and Snark cruise missiles. There are also plans to relocate a MiG-21 from Tucson, Arizona, to the new site.

Photo of exhibits waiting to be moved, currently on display outside the old National Atomic Museum at Kirtland AFB. Photo taken by user marz0.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A long dusty road to our new home

First, it was the prairie dogs. Next, came a transient owl. And finally, it was fugitive dust.

Fugitive dust? Yes, dust that is created by preparing our property for the building of a brand-new museum.

But, before grading could start (with a permit requiring us to water down the dust being created), a prairie dog relocation effort was underway. Prairie dogs, it turns out, must be assisted to find new living quarters.

And that transient owl? One day it was gone, presumably on to a new place.

Prairie dogs, owls, and even dust...all making way for our new home. A home that, as of last week, has all of its' steel roof installed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Museum = New Exhibits

The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History provides an independent, balanced, and accessible source of knowledge about nuclear issues - essential for an informed public, essential for acceptance of the nuclear industry, and a source of inspiration and education for young people - our next generation of nuclear engineers. Museum staff and volunteers have worked diligently to develop a series of new and redesigned exhibits to honor and support this mission.
Major Educational Exhibits planned in the new museum:

  • Radiation 101

  • Atomic Universe

  • Energy Encounters

  • The Uranium Cycle

  • Pioneers of the Atomic Age

  • Handle with Care; Radioactive Waste

  • Myths to Miracles; Nuclear Medicine & Radiology

  • Trinity and Legacy

  • Doomsday to Détente; The Cold War

  • Little Al’s Laboratory, Interactive Youth Physics Center

  • The MAZE; Global Conversations & Nuclear Issues
    (this exhibit will address major issues and controversies and will be updated regularly to remain current)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Museum Relocation Project: Selected Milestones

October 30, 2007: Charles Loeber, the Museum Relocation Project Manager, and Harry Mumma, the Building Construction Manager delivered the Fugitive Dust Control Permit and the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan to our point-of-contact at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). These were the final documents required prior to construction.

October 31, 2007: After confirming that all prairie dogs and burrowing owls had been removed from our site, SNL issued their approval for us to proceed with infrastructure construction. We then notified the City of Albuquerque, and they immediately authorized A.S. Horner, their construction contractor, to proceed. By the end of this day, bulldozers were grading our site. The City is constructing our infrastructure using funds from the State of New Mexico.

December 19, 2007: Bids were solicited bids for construction of the building. These bids were due by January 31, 2008.

January 18, 2008: The City of Albuquerque, using A.S. Horner, completed Phase 1 of our infrastructure. This work was divided into two phases pending the City’s receipt of the second increment of funding from the State of New Mexico.

February 18, 2008: Charles Loeber and Kim Meagher as President and Treasurer respectively of the National Atomic Museum Foundation signed a contract with MV Industries, Inc. to construct a 30,000 sq. ft. building for approximately $5.7 million. MVI then proceed to obtain a City permit to do the earthwork, transfer the Fugitive Dust Permit, revise the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan, obtain construction insurance, sign contracts with their subcontractors, mobilize their workforce, etc.

March 4, 2008: Charles Loeber, as Museum Relocation Project Manager, issued a "Notice to Proceed" to MVI.

March 19, 2008: MVI began preparing the foundation. This involved compacting the soil, constructing the foundation forms, installing all of the electrical conduits and plumbing that goes under the slab, placing the rebar, etc.

April 19, 2008: MVI began pouring the concrete foundation. The final pour should be completed on May 23rd.

May 28, 2008: The steel building is scheduled for delivery to our site.

June 2, 2008: MVI will begin erecting the steel building. This building should be up by mid-June.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A new place to call home

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History Project

This project is a truly unique science, history education and preservation center for all to enjoy. The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History will be located at the corner of Eubank and Southern Boulevards in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is a vibrant retail and technology park setting, less than 1 mile from I-40, yet near historic Rt. 66.

The Museum is a national center of nuclear science information and is dedicated to preserving and presenting information about topics critical to the public. The museum will be built on a 12-acre site and feature 14,000 square feet of exhibits to view and enjoy.

Outside of the facility will be the 9-acre Heritage Park that will feature aircraft, rockets, launch vehicles and even a part of a nuclear submarine. Visitors will enjoy up-close examination of these historic materials while following a wheel-chair accessible pathway featuring periodically placed benches and descriptive signage.

The new National Museum of Nuclear Science & History needs your support to assure all parts of the project are completed upon opening of the facility in spring of 2009.