- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 28, 2000

Aviation enthusiasts can see aircraft up close this Saturday at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's Dulles Day Family Festival.

The event, geared toward children, offers a chance to see inside military, commercial and civilian aircraft and talk to pilots, Airport Authority spokesman Tom Sullivan says.

The festival is free and runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

"Dulles Day brings aviation to the people," Mr. Sullivan says. "Flying is universally appealing. No matter how long I have been in this business, I find people are fascinated by an airplane's power, speed and ability to stay in the air."

The highlight of the festival will be the eighth annual airplane pull, in which teams of 20 persons will try to pull a 727 airplane 12 feet in the fastest time. About 40 teams from all over the region will take part in the airplane pull, which begins at 10 a.m.

Non-aviation activities also will be available for families, including a moon bounce, live music and an antique car show.

Eventually, Washington Dulles International Airport will house the National Air and Space Museum Dulles Center when it opens in late 2003.

The Dulles Center, to be built on 176 acres on the grounds of the airport in Loudoun County, will house more than 180 aircraft, Air and Space Museum spokesman Walt Ferrell says.

"The Dulles Center will be a companion to the museum on the National Mall," he says. "Less than 10 percent of the nation's collection is on display right now. The rest of it is off view and has been disassembled. This will be the nation's hangar."

The Dulles collection will include such aircraft as the Space Shuttle Enterprise, the SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance plane and the fully restored Enola Gay, Mr. Ferrell says.

Also available will be state-of-the-art restoration hangars, where visitors will be able to watch as museum specialists preserve aircraft and spacecraft. The museum will include an obser-vation desk to view takeoffs and landings at the airport.

Construction of the project is set to begin in January. The opening, in December 2003, will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C.

The Dulles Center will be one of the few Smithsonian projects funded by private donations, Mr. Ferrell says. Congress allotted $8 million for the initial design, and Virginia has contributed $39 million for roads and other infrastructure. More than $130 million must be raised by a capital campaign. Mr. Ferrell says a large portion of the money already has been raised.

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