Monday, April 29, 2013

Re-post: My Enterprise Incident

I'm re-posting this article from 2011 because I actually found the photo mentioned in the story, and have updated the post accordingly. I also discovered that I had the year wrong - in the original post, I remembered these events taking place in 1976, but from the date stamped on the back of the photograph by the developer, it was actually the Spring of 1980.

Not my photo...
Back in the Spring of 1980, when I was 16 years-old, my family took a vacation trip to Washington D.C. with a side trip to the Amish country of Pennsylvania. I was particularly excited to visit the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum because I knew that the original U.S.S. Enterprise model, used in the filming of Star Trek, was on display there. Everything else about that trip was pretty much of secondary importance to me. What really mattered was getting to see that iconic starship with my own eyes.

Also not my picture...
Upon our arrival at the Air & Space Museum, I dragged my family right past the Spirit of St. Louis and the Wright Bros. plane - though I did stop briefly to examine the Apollo capsule they had on display - and headed for the "Life In The Universe?" exhibit, where, suspended from the ceiling, was the Enterprise in all her glory. With my little Kodak camera, I took almost a dozen photos of the starship, from just as many different angles, and marveled at being in the ship's presence. Eventually, my parents dragged me away, and I enjoyed the rest of my visit to the museum.

THIS is my photo!
Unfortunately, when I had my film developed after our trip, I discovered that the camera had jammed, leaving me with a single print - of a dozen superimposed images of the Enterprise from a dozen angles. Oddly, the camera worked fine before and after I tried to shoot the model. Hmmm....

 I understand that the Enterprise is still on display at the Air & Space Museum, although it's been repainted a few times and moved to the Gift Shop. One of these days, I hope to get back there and visit the great lady again....


  1. A customer came into the hobby shop two weeks ago, and asked us about fiberglass. Well, we don’t have anything like that, but I asked what he was doing. He said he had a 3-4 foot saucer section of an Enterprise under his bed for many years, and it had warped. He wanted info on how to un-warp it. The boss said go to an auto body shop since they deal with that kind of thing. I said turn it over and let it re-warp the other way! From what I remember, it’s a copy of one of the models from the show. That’s all I have.
    Andy Doty

  2. Kind of the same thing happened to me when I visited Universal
    Studios. The most important thing for me to see was the Ride of Galactica! I snapped almost an entire roll on just that ride!
    Of course when i went to get them developed ( that's right kids
    we had to get film developed!)they had destroyed my film! I was
    crushed!Btw Mr Mills love site I'll join soon so I can post
    my name. Howk

  3. I was there about a year later, I think, on a school trip from Canada. I remember the Enterprise hanging there in all it's glory and Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon ray guns. Man, it was great. I got a couple of pictures too. I wonder where they are?

  4. I've always wanted to go to the Air & Space Museum. The Mother Ship from Close Encounters is there, too.

  5. It might have been an accident, but it still makes for an oddly beautiful image because of the way you've got the central view with the dish seen from the front, seemingly surrounded by all the other angles. In a weird way it seems to fit in with 'look' of the original series and its effects - you could imagine something like that with multiple Enterprises happening in the show.

  6. In the 90's, they had a really big Star Trek exhibit, complete with costumes and sets and interactive stuff. I had come to DC to install Macs and converted the Air & Space magazine to using "desktop" equipment instead of a typesetting service. I was an instructor and did on-site training getting clients up and running. The editor asked me if I wanted to go see it. I was able to go in an hour before the public was allowed. In fact, it was so popular, you had to come get ticks and come back hours later. It was so great to go in before the crowds.

    I could get really close to things like a phaser, and the actual ship. The ship is mounted on a bar, by the way. I remember a phase in a glass case, and a picture of Kirk brandishing it threateningly. It looked like shit in the display (crappy clear tubing in the front), but looked totally real in his hands. They had a transporter room you could stand in and it made the noise from the show.

    That day was one of the greatest of my professional career.

    LOVE this blog.

  7. Can't believe they hung such an iconic/rare piece of pop culture and entertainment history from a few wires. Especially that low to the floor unlike a heavy aircraft, could've easily been grabbed. They sort of fudged-up the restoration by adding those lines and greenish paint which make it look like a very early model kit instead of a prop. Plus putting it in glass really prohibits good pictures.