Over the holidays, we visited the Carolinas Aviation Museum because I purchased a Groupon a long time ago and needed to use it before it expired.
The inside displays had detailed descriptions of each aircraft, the history behind it and several were available for a hands-on experience.
Wally Coppinger has been the director at the Carolinas Aviation Museum for the past four years. He explained his philosophy: “Every airplane has a heartbeat. Tell the story of the people and you connect them to the aircraft.”
The volunteers were key to our self-guided tour. Each had their own background as a pilot and enjoyed answering questions about their experiences as well as the aircraft housed in the museum.
The biggest surprise for me was the display of US Airways Flight 1549. Today is the seventh anniversary of Miracle on the Hudson, a term dubbed by David Paterson, governor of New York at the time. After a flock of Canadian Geese destroyed the engines upon takeoff, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made an emergency landing in the Hudson River in New York. Every passenger and crew member survived.
The entire Airbus A320 is located in the middle of the hanger and surrounded by information about why it went down and how Captain Sully was able to land it. Quotes from passengers explain how they felt when they hit the icy water. The cabinet full of items that survived the landing makes for a powerful, yet unsettling experience. A 25-minute Discovery Channel documentary further describes the intensity of the experience.
Once a month, the museum offers Passenger Days on a Saturday from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. On Jan. 16, Steve O’Brien will be available to answer questions and share his story from his experience of the flight.
Photos: Carolinas Aviation Museum; Vanessa Infanzon; AP Photo