Super Guppy, as NASA’s peculiarly shaped cargo aircraft is known, does not make public appearances very often, so it should come to no surprise that this event made the news now.
The name of its predecessor was even funnier, if you can imagine that. The Pregnant Guppy was operational between the summer of 1963 (even though the first flight was on September 1962) to 1979. Cannibalized parts of the Pregnant Guppy were used for making the fourth Super Guppy. These days, one of them was spotted in Seattle, as it circled around the Museum of Flight where it finally landed to deliver the Space Shuttle Trainer. It’s a bit ironic how the words “Pregnant” and “delivery” fit in this context.
I must admit it, the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the above picture was the whale from Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and I guess you know why. You do not get to see everyday an aircraft with such an extraordinary shape, so I envy a bit the people who attended the event.
The Space Shuttle Trainer, which left Houston’s Johnson Space Center for the first time now to become the property of the Museum of Flight, is a 1:1 mockup of the Space Shuttle Orbiter. The 121-foot shuttle trainer, along with other pieces, will be seen in a “world class” exhibition at the aforementioned museum. It should be noted that the Space Shuttle Trainer has not been delivered in one piece, as it couldn’t fit the whale-shaped cargo plane. Instead, only the 28-foot crew compartment has been brought to the museum now, and the rest of the shuttle trainer will be delivered in two other trips that will bring the total cost of transfer to $2 million. Moral? Do you live in Seattle and missed the whale-plane this time? Scan the sky periodically, cause you might see it again.
Seattle’s Museum of Flight is not the only site to host a NASA retired space shuttle. In fact, 19 other visitors centers from all across the US have such exhibits. However, in the case of this Full Fuselage Trainer, the experience will most likely be unique, as the visitors will be allowed to step inside it. The following video presents the whale-plane in flight and landing in Seattle, both being rather spectacular.