Flight became the theme for the day as we explored the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center and the National Soaring Museum in Elmira, NY.
There was a lot of “new” for us on this mini-vacation. This was our first trip in our new-to-us pickup truck. I’ve never owned a truck before, and we’ve now had this Ford F-150 for a couple of weeks. We decided to use it for this trip because there is still a lot of snow blowing around and we would be on rural roads most of the way. It proved to be a good decision, because there were many times when the 4-wheel drive was a necessity. The truck handled beautifully, and it was a very comfortable ride.
There is quite a lot for tourists to see and do in Elmira. Surprisingly.
Our first stop at the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center was highlighted by the experience of flying a 727 passenger jet. I “took off” from O’Hare airport, flew out over the city and Lake Michigan, and then attempted a landing back at O’Hare. Of course, I crash landed on this, my very first time behind the controls. But it was a fun experience, and one that I had no idea that I would be able to enjoy. This was only one of many flight simulators that are to be found at Wings of Eagles, and as far as I could tell, it was the only functional one. I was pretty surprised that they let me operate it!
The rest of the facility gives an overview of the history of aircraft, with an emphasis on World War II developments. I especially appreciated the opportunity to learn about female flyers, and Eileen Collins in particular. Eileen Collins is an Elmira native, and it is quite obvious that they are proud of her here for becoming the first female NASA commander of the space shuttle.
We spent some time at the Tanglewood Nature Center gawking at the turtles, snakes, geicos, and other caged animals as well as the taxidermy they have on display. It’s too bad there was such heavy snow cover, because it would have been nice to hike on their trails through the woods and meadows.
We ended our touring part of the day by visiting the National Soaring Museum and learning all about non-motorized flight. Harris Hill, outside Elmira, has been a hotbed of gliding for nearly the past 100 years. It is astounding to see the number of gliders that they have on display here. They are very beautiful crafts with their delicacy and balance of design. I would love to come back during the warmer months and actually go for a glider flight at the Harris Hill Soaring Center.
We checked in for an overnight at the Elmira Riverview Holiday Inn. We chose to have dinner at Pietro & Son Italian Restaurant.