Aviation museums are often busiest in the summer, when families take vacation time, but winter can be the best time to explore their collections, when the museums are less crowded and offer respite from the cold. This month, the New England Air Museum, in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, will hold an Open Cockpit Day on Jan. 13, offering visitors a chance to climb aboard its historic aircraft, including a Lockheed F-104C Starfighter and a Bell UH-1B “Huey” helicopter. For those who prefer to stay warm at home, the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., now offers free apps that enable users to experience a “virtual-reality” tour of three of the museum’s most famous artifacts.
The VR Hangar apps use real data from 3-D scans to create virtual tours of the 1903 Wright Flyer, the Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis and the Apollo 11 command module Columbia. The app is optimized for use with Google Cardboard and similar devices, and is available free in the iOS and Android app stores. The museum also live-streams many of its speaker events online for free. Coming up on Feb. 7, John Mather, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, will give a talk about the James Webb Space Telescope.