Today on a birthday treat to take my niece to ride on Thomas the Tank Engine at MOSI (The Museum of Science and Industry) I made an amazing discovery: The Air and Space Hall. Down Liverpool Road opposite the Hilton tower on Deansgate, sits the sprawling site of MOSI. Nestled amongst swanky modernised pubs and reconditioned old railways is the Air and Space exhibition installed in its shiny crystal palace.
I’m stupidly tired now and my brain is crying ‘stop making me think, go to sleep you twat’. But no I scream in reply. Must make more words.
Until I laid eyes upon gigantic RAF Arvo Shackleton nicknamed Dougal – a bomber built in the 1950s, designed to fly 24 hour reconnaissance missions without refuelling, and including bunks, toilets and a galley, like a submarine – I never realised how much of a geek I actually am. I got emotionally excited like a 1960s boy with a conker in his pocket and an Airfix model on his table. Like James May on one of his shows about toys and/or mechanics that’s forever shown on channel Dave. I don’t remember being that sort of geek when I was a child.
I spent ages gazing at the controls and vast bank of dials and weird measuring things in the cockpit of a military helicopter, attempting to look as though I knew what any of it was for. A proper military old man, white hair, and smart blazer wandered around taking photographs and gazing lovingly at the ancient military aircraft. His admiration for times gone by, and his slight sadness that the modern technology of his youth are today’s museum pieces, gave me a tinge of sadness and an unsettling feeling of being proud to be British. How odd.
I spent way too long looking at a series of jet engines in various states of disassembly. I respectfully laid eyes upon a Roe 1 Avro Triplane which flew for 900 feet three metres off the ground in 1909. It looked like a bicycle on top of a wheelchair encased in a strange, vaguely plane-shaped construction of plywood and string. Only 60 years after it tottered around so close to the ground man made his first flight to the moon and back. Cooool.
I vaguely remember coming to visit MOSI with my dad when I was very small (about 3 and a half feet), and again to see the Gunther von Hagens’ Bodyworlds exhibition last year. But until today I had not realised how fantastic MOSI is. I spent a small amount of time in the engine room, looking at pistons, pumps, cogs and waterwheels. Unfortunately I couldn’t spot a Wankel rotary engine, but it’s possible they keep that in the ‘adult’ section.
There is loads, loads more for me to see. And I’ll definitely be returning to get my ubergeek on.
Live long and prosper.