Tales from Wapakoneta . . . 2022
I spent last weekend at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. I brought my book Neil Armstrong’s Wind Tunnel Dream to sell, AND my model wind tunnel to share. The plane lost weight like it was supposed to, and aerospace lovers got to figure out how. (Think wind and lift.)
Neil’s 1946 tunnel was way better than mine . . . he used a real propeller. It had lots of lift! It knocked his mom’s robe off and sent the model through the window. Cole Roberts did a great job illustrating it for my book.
Tale #1 – The Space Hipsters: I’ve heard of hipsters, but not the space kind. Kevin stopped by my wind tunnel and introduced himself, and the hipsters. I didn’t know they were all over the world, but it figures they love everything about space. You don’t have to be a scientist to be a hipster. They even take in retired 2nd grade teachers, like me.
Kevin gave me two things, free. I didn’t ask for them, but I love them both. First, this Ohio patch. The stars around the state represent cities who are space-famous. The two up north, Wapakoneta and Cleveland. Wapak’s known for Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon. Cleveland’s famous for the NASA Glenn Visitor Center.
The two down south are Dayton and Cambridge. Dayton’s the home of the Wright Brothers, the ones who were first in flight. Cambridge is the home of John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth.
Tale #2 – A Piece of the Couch: Kevin also gave me this little piece of plastic. He said I’d flip over it. I did . . . after he told me what it was.
It’s a tiny piece of fabric sealed in plastic. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s part of a couch, the one Viola Armstrong sat on, on a long-ago day back in 1969.The day her son walked on the moon. Now, I have a tiny piece of history! WOW! Kevin was right . . . I just flipped!
Tale #3 – It’s Rocket Science: And I found it in the museum parking lot. That’s where I met a few people with the Wright Stuff. The real ‘Right Stuff’ comes from a 1983 movie about the Mercury 7, our first 7 NASA astronauts. One of them was Ohio’s own John Glenn.
The ones in the museum parking lot were the Wright Stuff Rocketeers. They’re from Dayton and named after that famous pair of brothers. The Rocketeers travel all over Ohio helping kids build and launch model rockets. The kids in Wapak were thrilled when the Rocketeers spent a rainy Saturday afternoon helping them build rockets, but I bet they were disappointed when the Rocketeers had to cancel Sunday’s launch . . . too rainy.
My biggest thrill – the Rocketeers checked out my wind tunnel when I unloaded it. My biggest disappointment – I didn’t get to see them in action, working with kids. Maybe next time!
PS – I could barely post last night (9/19). I wrote the rough draft, but I could only revise the first section. Then I hit a wall with the Space Hipsters. It was midnight, and I was exhausted. Sometimes you have to know when . . . When to push through . . . When to stop and take that break. I’m glad I did . . . Tonight’s revision was easy-peasy!
PPS – I thought I’d post Part 2 last night (9/21). COULDN’T! Not even a rough draft. I tried! For 2 or 3 hours. I finally gave up and posted my pictures. Then I could finally start writing phrases, and a rough draft. Editing tonight was easy peasy again. Sometimes – you have to wait for the words to come.
Tale #4 – Cutting Class: Welcome to Purdue! It’s the university Neil picked to study aeronautical engineering, at age 17. I don’t think Neil ever cut class, but the engineering students at Purdue did . . . whenever Neil returned for a visit . . . unannounced. He never told anyone he was coming, and that is so quintessentially Neil.
I heard this story from a Purdue aeronautical engineering grad. I’m not sure when he went to Purdue, but he told me how he’d walk into class . . . and find an empty room. He knew immediately that Neil was in the lounge. So was the rest of his class, and they were listening to Neil. But the saddest part of his story – he didn’t get to. His professor made him stay for class. If I’d been that professor, I’d have headed to the lounge to talk to Neil too.
PS – Happy Ending – My new friend got to skip class. He finally got the news in time, and he made it to the lounge so he could listen and talk to Neil. I wish I’d been there too.
Tale #5 – Instructables, Anyone? I shared my book and my wind tunnel with museum visitors, but I shared something else – Instructables. I found my wind tunnel there. I needed one because I couldn’t write about wind tunnels – unless I understood them. The best way – to build one.
The best part – I’m sharing my Instructable story right now. I added the link in the back matter section of my book, How to Build a Wind Tunnel. I also shared it with museum visitors. They didn’t have to buy a book. They just took a picture of the link inside. Here’s the new version: Cardboard Wind Tunnel : 6 Steps - Instructables
Goalieguy wrote his Instructable back in 7th grade. I found him in 2019, messaged, and asked to use his pictures in my back matter. He had already graduated from college and had a job building robots in California. WOW! That’s what Instructables did for him, and they can do it for you too.
And, they have all kinds of projects to try – with 3D printers . . . crafts . . . electronics . . . food. If you come up with a new and terrific project, you could enter it in one of their contests – maybe even win a prize! If you want to learn more, here’s the link to their homepage: Yours for the making - Instructables
PS – My Purdue friend has a daughter going to college for aerospace engineering, just like he did. Just like Neil did. Guess what site she met after taking a few precollege engineering classes! If you guessed Instructables, you’re right! She said she could go back to her dorm room and build my wind tunnel. If she does, I bet hers will be better than mine.
Tale #6 – A Single Disappointment: From the outside looking in, Neil lived a charmed life. He set goals, and achieved them . . . from the first airplane he built at age two, to setting foot on the moon.
Neil did so many fabulous things. It’s hard to believe that he had disappointments, but someone from the museum told me he did. His . . . Neil never designed and built commercial airplanes.
It just goes to show that even Neil didn’t get everything he dreamed of. Nobody does. The sad part for me – knowing how much he loved making planes, and making each one better – That he didn’t get to build real commercial airliners. I’m disappointed for him. My story about Neil started when he discovered planes at age two, and it’s where this one ends, with his disappointment about the thing he never achieved.
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When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!