Collection Launches on Google Cultural Institute


New digital exhibits on the evolution of aviation and spaceflight are now available to Internet users worldwide!

Weatherford, Okla. (November 18, 2016) – The Stafford Air and Space Museum houses one of the finest collections of aerospace artifacts in the central United States, and is now on view for Internet users worldwide through the Google Cultural Institute.

“We are proud the Google Cultural Institute will include collections from the Stafford Air and Space Museum,” said Museum Director Max Ary. “We have worked closely with the Smithsonian Institution, NASA and the U.S. Air Force Museum to assemble thousands of artifacts, and hope these exhibits will motivate people around the world to learn and someday visit the museum in person.”

More than 50 actual artifacts and high-fidelity replicas currently displayed at the museum will be included in the Google Arts and Culture Collection. In addition, a featured exhibit will focus on the Apollo Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission, the first international joint space mission between Russia and the United States, which was conducted in 1975. General Thomas P. Stafford, the museum’s namesake, served as the U.S. Commander of the ASTP mission.

Using the Street View feature, online visitors can virtually move around the Stafford Air and Space Museum, selecting works that interest them and clicking to discover more or diving into the high resolution images, where available.

A specially designed Street View ‘trolley’ took 360 degree images of selected exhibits which were then stitched together, enabling smooth navigation of over six large galleries within the Museum, including aircraft ranging from the Wright Flyer to the F-16, and space history from Robert Goddard to the Space Shuttle.

“Google aims to highlight a wide breadth of art, history and culture through the Cultural Institute,” said Andrew Silvestri, Google’s head of public affairs for the Central Region. “The story of General Stafford’s journey to becoming a world-renowned astronaut has inspired generations of Oklahomans. This partnership will allow new audiences the opportunity to explore the history of American aerospace and aviation, potentially inspiring the next generation of space pioneers.”

View the live exhibit here.


About the Google Cultural Institute

The Google Cultural Institute is dedicated to creating technology that helps the cultural community to bring their cultural treasures, archives, heritage sites and other material online. The aim is to increase the range and volume of material from the cultural world that is available for people to explore online and in doing so, democratize access to it and preserve it for future generations.

Katy Gustafson

By | 2017-08-11T04:13:30+00:00 November 18th, 2016|Exhibits, Home, News|Comments Off on Collection Launches on Google Cultural Institute

NASA Shuttle Simulator Lands at Stafford Museum

The Stafford Air & Space Museum has acquired NASA’s primary Shuttle Fixed-Based Simulator (FBS) from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, IL.  One of the most significant and historic artifacts from the Space Shuttle era, the FBS was used by NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston during the entire 30-year history of the Shuttle program. Each one of the 135 astronaut crews to fly the Space Shuttle conducted a significant part of their primary training in the FBS. By acquiring an artifact of this significance, the Stafford Museum has taken another giant step towards its goal of becoming an institution of national importance.

The FBS is a high-fidelity replica of the entire flight deck, or cockpit, of the Space Shuttle.  Comprised of the fore and aft-decks, the FBS is an exact representation of the Shuttle cockpit, fully-equipped with more than 2,200 switches, gauges, circuit breakers, computer displays, and dials that were part of the highly complex Shuttle cockpit – much of it being flight-ready hardware.

The original site selected by NASA for the FBS was the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, where it was transported four years ago.  During that time, the simulator remained crated, awaiting proper display designs and restoration.  Earlier this year, the Stafford Museum started working closely with the Adler Planetarium regarding the care and preservation of the simulator.  During this time, major changes were made in the long-term exhibit planning for the Chicago-based facility.  As a result of these changes, it was determined that the best long-term home for this important artifact would be the Stafford Air & Space Museum.

The cost to acquire and move the simulator to the Stafford Museum was underwritten by the museum’s foundation, which is financed, in part, through numerous memberships and generous donations from individuals and companies from around the country. Their invaluable support has allowed the Stafford Museum to grow and develop its exhibits and collection into a historical archive beginning to be recognized on a national level.

The staff of the Stafford Museum will soon undertake the restoration process on the FBS, making it ready for public display after the first of the year.  The FBS will become a major feature of the new Space Shuttle gallery under development at the museum. The updated gallery will include hundreds of other priceless artifacts from the Shuttle program, including a flown Shuttle main engine, a flown solid-rocket booster segment, a partial tail assembly, fuel cells, space suits, a flown cargo bay pallet, experiment packages, rare items from the Hubble Space Telescope, and hundreds of other Shuttle artifacts.



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The complexity of the fore-deck (above) of the Shuttle Fixed-Base Simulator is clearly evident in this photo as it appeared during training for the final Shuttle mission – STS-135- in July, 2011.

The complexity of the fore-deck (above) of the Shuttle Fixed-Base Simulator is clearly evident in this photo as it appeared during training for the final Shuttle mission – STS-135- in July, 2011.

Astronaut Charles J. Camarda, STS-114 mission specialist, checks data on a monitor in the aft section of the cabin of the fixed-base shuttle mission simulator at JSC's Mission Simulation and Training Facility.

Astronaut Charles J. Camarda, STS-114 mission specialist, checks data on a monitor in the aft section of the cabin of the fixed-base shuttle mission simulator at JSC’s Mission Simulation and Training Facility on March 3, 2005.

STS-135 commander Chris Ferguson trains to fly on the last space shuttle mission inside the fixed base simulator. (NASA)

STS-135 commander Chris Ferguson trains to fly on the last space shuttle mission inside the fixed base simulator. (NASA)

By | 2017-08-11T04:13:30+00:00 August 3rd, 2016|Exhibits, News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on NASA Shuttle Simulator Lands at Stafford Museum

Museum Acquires Tacit Rainbow

After years of effort, the Stafford Air & Space Museum is pleased to announce the acquisition of a revolutionary cruise missile that is closely tied to the career of Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford.

Called “Tacit Rainbow,” this small, jet powered unmanned “mini” drone was conceived and developed by General Stafford when he served as the Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition at the Pentagon in the late 1970’s.

The project was developed using experience gained with anti-radar missiles in Vietnam that could zero in on radar sites when they were operating, but would often malfunction if the radar was turned off after the missile was launched.

To solve this problem, General Stafford pushed the development of this “smart” weapon that had a variety of unique qualities.  It was ingeniously designed to be small enough to be carried by bombers and fighter aircraft to within striking distance of a potential target.  When launched, the drone’s wings and horizontal tail would unfold out of the fuselage, and its small 70-lb thrust jet engine would fire up.  An onboard computer was pre-programmed to steer the craft to a designated target area where it would loiter, waiting for an enemy radar site to be turned on.  As soon as a radar signal was detected, it would immediately attack the radar installation.  If the radar was turned off to avoid detection, the “Tacit Rainbow” would return to orbit the site and wait for the radar to be turned back on.  It would continue to do this until the radar installation was either destroyed, or until it ran out of fuel.

Surviving examples of the “Tacit Rainbow” are extremely rare, with less than five still known to exist. Working closely with the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas – one of the locations of the aircraft –  the Stafford Air & Space Museum was able to negotiate a mutually beneficial artifact trade.  The Dallas museum received two space artifacts they needed, and we were able to bring another example of General Stafford’s many accomplishments back to the museum named for him!

The “Tacit Rainbow” should be on public display by the end of the summer!


By | 2017-08-11T04:13:30+00:00 July 1st, 2016|Exhibits, News, Uncategorized|Comments Off on Museum Acquires Tacit Rainbow

F-104 “Starfighter” In Stunning Form!

The tired, old F-104 “Starfighter” that was removed several years ago from the entrance to the Stafford Museum and Airport has been brought back to life!

The museum’s newest outdoor display has already become an iconic monument for the region.  One of the most revolutionary aircraft ever built – the Lockheed F-104 “Starfighter” – is now situated just outside the museum’s front entrance, majestically pointing nearly six stories straight up into the sky. After three years of planning, engineering, and restoration by museum staff, volunteers, and corporate donors, the aircraft has been painstakingly lifted to its new loft.

The specific F-104 on display at the Stafford Air & Space Museum, (S/N 56-932), has a great history.  In 1961, it was sent to Germany by President Kennedy during the “Berlin Crisis” when the city was being divided by the construction of the Berlin Wall that brought the “Cold War” to the edge of World War III.  In 1965, #932 became an actual “war-bird” when it was one of only 29 F-104s sent to Vietnam, where it would fly more than fifty missions.

By | 2016-06-02T21:13:48+00:00 March 11th, 2016|Exhibits, Uncategorized|Comments Off on F-104 “Starfighter” In Stunning Form!