Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the first man on the moon. A piece of Apollo 11 history just found a new home here in Oklahoma, at the Stafford Air and Space Museum in Weatherford.
The newest artifacts at the museum are called the “Holy Grail of Aerospace” because they tie the very first flight to the first lunar landing.
As visitors are immersed in the world of planes and rocket ships, one exhibit is easy to overlook, but it might be one of the most significant. It contains a small swatch of wing fabric and a small piece of wooden propeller from the Wright Brothers' first plane to fly.
“To have those pieces fly to the moon with Neil Armstrong to be the first man on the moon, to walk on the moon in 1969, is just incredible,” said the museum’s assistant director Chaney Larsen. “It gives me goosebumps talking about it.”
Newly discovered footage from the mission was just released, amid the celebration of the anniversary. Two months before that moment in history, though, General Tom Stafford himself was aboard Apollo 10. He still calls Weatherford home.
Larsen explained, “We are the only state to have an astronaut in every American-manned space program…so it’s huge. It’s a big deal for us.”
The milestone celebration for these events brings the Stafford together with the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and the Oklahoma History Center. Visitors are encouraged to visit all three for a chance to win a year of free admission.
And you may want to prepare for what is in the works in Weatherford. The museum is currently constructing a more than 20,000 square-foot expansion with more than 400 new exhibits.
“One of my favorites that I’m really excited about is the stealth gallery,” Larsen said, “and we will have an actual F-117 aircraft coming here.”
The exterior construction is expected to be complete by Fall 2019, with the exhibits opening one by one as they are installed over the course of the next few years.