Tim Grove, chief of the museum learning at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, recently got the opportunity to go on a Grumman C-2 Greyhound, a United States Navy aircraft.
On the flight, Grove sat facing the back of the aircraft and was required to wear a life vest, goggles and helmets. The aircraft came to a halt in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 90 miles east of Norfolk, Virginia on the deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Grove was tagging along for a training mission.
Grove explained that his trip was for the museum and footage of the trip was used for a program for the museum. The program has had various people in it who use STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—in their daily jobs.
“Our trip to the aircraft carrier was my opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creating a National Air and Space Museum education program called ‘STEM in 30,’” Grove explained. “The goal of the 30-minute webcast is to take its primary middle-school audience beyond the walls of the Museum to places they would ordinarily not have the chance to visit.”
The aircraft uses a system that was first brought into existence back in 1911. When the aircraft came to a stop in the middle of the ocean, it happened quickly. “We came to a complete stop in two seconds,” Grove said.
Stepping on board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, Grove described it as an “alternate universe” with members of the crew wearing bright shirts, goggles and helmets. Close to 3,000 sailors were on board.
The program is using video clips as well as short interview clips. Grove explained how STEM can be applied to the ship.
“Landing an airplane is difficult under normal circumstances; imagine landing a super-fast fighter on a very short, moving runway. The whole process requires not only math and science, but also the coordination of a massive crew of people,” Grove said. “The fighter pilots may get the glory, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. Below the flight deck are thousands of support staff who keep the floating city humming.”
Grove said the noise levels on board the ship made it difficult to talk, but eventually the footage was complete. Talking about the crew members themselves he said he was “surprised at their youth” and estimated the average age to be 23. He said they are also very dedicated.
“They perform very skilled jobs on which people’s lives depend,” Grove said. “They trusted us to follow them precisely to keep away from danger, and we trusted them to give us access to the best places and people on the ship to craft a show filled with memorable stories.”
While on board, Grove got to see the catapult in action.
Grove said the museum makes around ten videos each year for students and tries to tell stories that are unique, considering “iconic objects” that are at the museum. The videos also support Next Generation science standards at well as United States guidelines based on the National Research Council.
A little over 55 Grumman C-2 Greyhounds were built in two different models. The aircraft was first introduced in 1966. It is a two engine aircraft that is primarily designed for cargo, and it can hold a total of 26 passengers. The aircraft is made in the United States and costs about $40 million per each one.