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Hanging with History

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If you’ve ever wanted to get real up close and personal with aviation history, then grab your Nitrile gloves, California Dusters and Bunny Cloths and get yourself down to the Steven Udvar-Hazy Center at the Dulles International Airport and apply for janitor duty.
 
 
Not exactly your typical janitor, the Smithsonian Institution is looking for a contractor to clean the dust off 112 historic and rare aircraft and spacecraft on the floors and hanging from the rafters of Hazy, including the B-29 Superfortress “Enola Gay”, the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer, and a Boeing P-26A “Peashooter”, once every 3 months for the next year, or perhaps the next five years. (See the full list of aircraft below this post)
 
The request for proposal, which is open through Jan. 21, makes it clear the work is no walk in the park however, but it’s for a good cause. “Removing dust not only assists with the long-term care of the object; it lets the public know that we are diligent stewards of our nation’s aerospace heritage,” says the Smithsonian. 
 
I’d bet the rules and regulations for cleaning these aircraft in some cases are more rigorous and thorough than the original flight manuals and checklists for the aircraft themselves. The “artifact” cleaning list spans two pages, noting that “improper clearing can cause irreversible damage, which is why it’s important to know what you are cleaning and why.”
 
Before dusting an aircraft or spacecraft, the cleaner is to “examine the object without touching it”, having a look and noting the condition of the aircraft, spacecraft or component in the “BLAST artifact cleaning database.”
 
“The single most important aspect of working with museum collections is to record the objects condition in a written document. Damage can easily occur during cleaning and this needs to be documented and reported, so that the collection stewards have a record for the object’s history. Distinguishing historic damage from contemporary damage is critical as this information contributes to the artifacts history,” the solicitation states. “Things to note in the condition report are the following; Missing parts, physical damage, cracks, breaks lines/edges that appear new, tears, area of material loss, fresh/new area of loss, dents, holes, loose parts, wires, bolts, surface damage, flaking paint, dust, grease spots, stains, spotty surface (may be water and/or soap and water spots), bird poop, insect evidence (spiders, cobwebs) and foreign objects.”
 
The cleaning process itself is very precise: 
 
  • “Keep in mind that you are removing only dust. Do not attempt to remove stickers or graffiti – please report these damages to Conservation”
 
  • “Cleaning should be done with no distractions; no cell phones should be used while working on an artifact”
 
  • “Large aircraft can be surface cleaned with California Dusters, or synthetic feather dusters. The duster is moved across the surface of the artifact to trap dust into the fibers. The collected dust is then vacuumed from the duster with each pass over the surface. This collects the dust so that it is not re-deposited onto the surface of the artifact”
 
  • “Use Dust Bunny Cloth’s to remove dust from the aircraft windscreen. Dust Bunny Cloths are soft Tyvek, chemically treated to prevent electric static charges, and will not scratch the acrylic on the windscreens or windows. Dust Bunny cloth’s should be washed periodically and can be vacuumed after each use”
 
There are some areas where the cleaners are not to venture for their own health, including the cockpit: “Do not clean inside of aircraft cockpits. Many of the instruments are radioactive and you will contaminate your cleaning tools, and expose yourself to sources of radiation.”
 
 
List of "Artifacts" to dust...
Bowlus 1-S-2100 Senior Albatross "Falcon"
Aeronca C-2
Grumman G-22
Benoist-Korn Type XII
Piper PA-12 Super Cruiser
Missile, Air-to-Surface, Bat
Missile, Air-to-Air, Gorgon II-A
Missile, Air-to-Air, Henschel Hs 298
Missile, Air-to-Air, Ruhrstahl X-4
North American P-51C, "Excalibur III"
Rocket, Booster, Nike, for Nike-Cajun Sounding Rocket
Stinson L-5 Sentinel
Grunau Baby II B-2
Horten H VI V2
Vought OS2U-3 Kingfisher
Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat
Naval Aircraft Factory N3N
Vought F4U-1D Corsair
Waterman Aerobile
Satellite, Pioneer I, Reconstructed Replica
Satellite, Pioneer V, Reconstructed Replica
Satellite, Explorer 6, Reconstructed Replica
Model, Telescope, Stratoscope II, 1:6
Curtiss P-40E Warhawk (Kittyhawk IA)
Missile, Ship-to-Surface and Test Missile, Gorgon 2C
Missile, Air-to-Air, Drone and Test, Gorgon IV, also Designated KUM-1 or PVT-N-2
Drone, Katydid, also Designated KDD-1, KDH-1, or TD2D-1
Drone, Target,  XKD5G-1
Bensen B-6 Gyroglider
Huff-Daland Duster
Arlington Sisu 1A
Model, Grumman XF8F-1 Bearcat, Drop Test Vehicle
Bensen B-8M Gyrocopter
Satellite, AOSO, Advanced Orbiting Solar Observatory
Drone, Skeet, also Designated KD2C-2
Bomb, Glide, BV 246 Hagelkorn (Hailstone)
Bomb, Guided, Ruhrstahl Fritz X (X-1)
Missile, Surface-to-Air, Lark
Missile, Test, RTV-N-15, also Designated Pollux
Boeing FB-5 Hawk
Boeing P-26A Peashooter
Nelson BB-1 Dragonfly
Bücker Bü-133C Jungmeister
Schweizer SGU 2-22EK
Satellite, Vanguard 3a, SLV 5 Refurbished Replica
Satellite, Explorer 10, Reconstructed Model
Satellite, Explorer 17, Replica
Satellite, Ariel I, Reconstructed Satellite
Satellite, Vanguard 3 Magne-Ray, Replica
Satellite, Vanguard, Lyman Alpha
Satellite, Explorer 12, Backup
Satellite, LOFTI 1, Engineering Model
Cessna 180
Satellite, Alouette, Model
Satellite, Explorer 8, Replica
Satellite, Explorer 7, Replica
Piper PA-18 Super Cub
Beechcraft  D18S Twin Beech
Satellite, IMP-A, Engineering Model
Piper J-3 Cub
Eipper-Formance Cumulus 10
Sportwings Valkyrie
Cessna O-1A Bird Dog
Missile, Cruise, Air-launched, AGM-86A
Stanley Nomad
Manta Pterodactyl Fledgling
Westland Lysander IIIa
Oblique-Wing R.P.V.
Monocoupe 110 Special
Missile, Ship-to-Air, Talos
Missile, Cruise, Air-launched, AGM-86B
Farman Sport
Frankfort TG-1A (Cinema)
Delta Wing Phoenix Mariah M-9
Delta Wing Model 162
Delta Wing Phoenix Viper 175
Delta Wing Phoenix VI B Jr.
Delta Wing Streak 130
Missile, Air-to-Surface, Henschel Hs 293 A-1
American Aerolights Double Eagle
Pitts Special S-1C
Kreider-Reisner C-4C Challenger
Missile, Anti-Missile, Homing Overlay Experiment, (HOE)
Rotorway Scorpion Too
Arrow Sport A2-60
De Havilland-Canada DHC-1A Chipmunk, Pennzoil Special
Mitchell U-2 Superwing
Ultralight Lazair SS EC
Satellite, Explorer 1, Replica
Monnett Moni
Gyro 2000 Ikenga 530Z
Gondola, Raven
Grob 102 Standard Astir III
Loudenslager Laser 200
Travel Air D4D
Payload, Scientific, Spartan 201
Sukhoi Su-26m
Cannister/Mast, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Payload
Robinson R22
Bell 47B
Globe Swift GC-1A
Ryan PT-22A Recruit
Hang Glider, Wills Wing Talon 150
Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer
Pathfinder Plus
Spacecraft, New Horizons, Mock-up
Grumman G-164 Ag-Cat
Benoist-Korn Type XII
Boeing B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay"
Solar System Probe, Landing Apparatus and Orbital Bus, Vega
Missile, Air-to-Surface, Gargoyle
F-14D(R) Tomcat

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