Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

March 2, 2012 at 4:52pm

Air Force Museum offers virtual tour

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The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Virtual Tour is now fully embedded with audio and video hotspots, and touch-screen devices, offering online visitors the opportunity to experience the entire museum.

Located at www.nmusafvirtualtour.com, the final two areas to be embedded -- the Cold War Gallery, with over 300 hotspots, and the Missile and Space Gallery, with close to 60 hotspots -- are now interactive with initial materials, allowing users to click on an artifact or exhibit and access factsheets, audio tour podcasts with printable transcripts, videos and interactive touch-screen displays.

Online visitors can see an array of aircraft and exhibits in the Cold War Gallery, which features an SR-71A Blackbird, B-1B Lancer, F-117F Nighthawk, A-10A Thunderbolt II and the world's only permanent public display of a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. Other exhibits include Office of Special Investigations, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Warrior Airmen.

The Apollo 15 Command Module and Mercury and Gemini capsules are located at the entrance to the Missile and Space Gallery. In the gallery are eight different rockets and missiles, ranging from the Minuteman to the Peacekeeper, and exhibits including astronaut food, re-entry vehicles, the Stargazer and Excelsior gondolas, and the 5-star general's insignia belonging to Gen. Henry "Hap" Arnold, which flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2011.

The virtual tour features more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles on display at the museum amid more than 17 acres of indoor exhibit space. Thousands of personal artifacts, photographs and documents further highlight the people and events that comprise the Air Force storyline, from the beginnings of military flight to today's war on terrorism.

Creating and embedding material in the virtual tour took more than a year. Consisting of nearly 75,000 files and more than 1,200 clickable hotspots, the tour will be an ongoing process to update and add new content.

"We still have a lot of work to do on this project," said Bryan Carnes, who developed the tour along with a contractor. "Although we have the initial content available for our online visitors to view, we will be adding more video, audio, interactive and educational materials associated with specific aircraft and artifacts in the museum."

"The museum is always expanding and changing," said retired Lt. Gen. John L. Hudson, the museum director. "With the addition of several important artifacts like the three recently declassified National Reconnaissance Office satellites, acquisition of NASA's Crew Compartment Trainer, renovation of the Southeast Asia War Gallery and plans to construct a fourth building, the virtual tour will continue to evolve as well."

The museum offers online visitors various ways to experience the tour, whether it is downloading podcasts from iTunes or accessing the tour through handheld devices. An application is also in development for download on Android and iPhone devices and is anticipated to be available by the summer.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located in Dayton, Ohio, and is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission and parking are free. For more information about the museum, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.

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