Tickets are now available for our Fourth Annual Spring Gala to be held on June 8, 2013 at the VE Club on Davisville Road in Warminster. This year’s event features raffles and silent auctions as well as remarks by Navmar Applied Technologies CEO Tom Fenerty. Proceeds will benefit the educational outreach programs of the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum which seeks to inspire students to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers by telling the story of the innovations which came out of the labs at the Johnsville Naval Air Development Center in Warminster. The Gala will also help to raise funds for the preservation of the original Johnsville Centrifuge gondola. We look forward to having you join us. A ticket order form can be downloaded by clicking here. Information on sponsorship opportunities is available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 267-250-8841.
Earlier today, you may have seen the news coverage of the transfer of Space Shuttle Discovery to Washington DC on the back of a 747 jetliner. The event of the delivery of a Space Shuttle to the Smithsonian Institution brought thousands of onlookers out to the National Mall to witness Shuttle Discovery at it was flown over our nation’s capitol, and snarled traffic around Dulles International Airport as the jet was making its final approach. Additionally #Discovery was a top trending topic on Twitter throughout the morning. The public reaction to this event leaves no doubt that there is still a high degree of interest in our country’s being a world space and technology leader.
We agree that it is important to preserve America’s history and future as a space faring nation and as a developer of advanced aviation technology. We see our mission to inspire future generations as an important one, and we invite you to join us in creating that future. The youth of today are the scientists, engineers and doctors of tomorrow. We need your help to inspire them to explore new frontiers and find solutions to the problems facing society. Although our efforts are over four years old, we are just getting off the launch pad.
Much has already been accomplished. In the past twelve months we not only brought back the original training gondola (the Mercury 7 Gondola) used by many notable astronauts, but we also obtained, literally, truckloads of other artifacts important to local history; not the least of which is Flanagan Grey’s Iron Maiden.
In addition to building our collection of artifacts and exhibits, we have also begun to develop the most important aspect of our mission; reaching out to schools and other organization to lay the groundwork for our educational outreach and learning programs. In just the past few months we attended our first science fair, hosted the Commonwealth Connections Academy, and presented at the Franklin Institute. We will also be featured at the NJ State Museum in Trenton this month. We have also made presentations to numerous local senior centers, rotary clubs, scout groups and community centers.
The next twelve months will be very important as for us as we search for a full time home to display our collection and as a place to continue to educate and inform the public. We look forward to cleaning and preserving the Mercury 7 Gondola. Plans for a pavilion to house it are also in the works. These efforts will require resources which are not currently in our possession. We ask for your continued support by attending our Third Annual Gala to be held at the VE Club at 130 Davisville Road in Warminster on April 28th at 5:00 PM; by doing so you will help us to continue our journey and fulfill our mission.
Information about the Gala is available at our website at www.nadcmuseum.org. Tickets are available by contacting email@example.com or 267-250-8841. Without people like you who care and support us, we would have never accomplished as much as we have and we would not be able to continue into the future.
I personally thank you for your continued support.
President, Johnsville Centrifuge & Science Museum
Tickets are now available for the third annual Spring Gala to benefit the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum. The event will be held on April 28th from 5 to 10 PM at the VE Club at 130 Davisville Road, Warminster, PA. Tickets are available for $65 each with tables of eight and ten available.
As you may know, this past year saw the return of the original centrifuge gondola to Bucks County after 47 years at an outside storage yard in Maryland. In addition to our educational outreach programs, proceeds from this year’s event will go towards preservation of this important and unique artifact that was used to train the likes of Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong.
The program for this year’s gala will include remarks by Dwayne A. Day, Space Historian and Senior Program Officer for the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Day also served as an investigator on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board in the wake of the disintegration of STS-107 during its reentry on February 1, 2003. Dr. Day will speak on the topic of the history of the US Space Program and little known facts about the Russian Space Program. It promises to be an interesting and informative evening.
Please help us honor the contributions made by our local community and inspire the youth of today to reach for the stars in all they do. Information about special sponsorship packages is available by calling 267-250-8841. Your sponsorship and/or attendance at this event will be much appreciated. If you are a local business owner and you would like to donate an item for the silent auction you may contact us at the above number or at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Zero Gs and feeling fine!” With those five words Mercury astronaut John Herschel Glenn, Jr. signaled that his spacecraft, Friendship 7, had entered its first of three orbits at approximately 2:52 p.m. on February 20, 1962. Four hours and fifty-five minutes later, his capsule would splash down and Glenn would become an iconic national hero – the first American to obit the earth. He would go on to serve 25 years in the U.S. Senate, and enter space history again in 1998 when, at the age of 77, he became the oldest person to fly in space on Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-95). Along with Scott Carpenter, John Glenn is the last surviving Project Mercury astronaut. He continues to be an outspoken advocate of America’s continued exploration of space. There is no doubt that Glenn’s flight fifty years ago paved the way for the moonwalk that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would make almost seven and a half years later.
Those who lived through those days remember that the astronauts were, to put it in today’s parlance, “A-list” celebrities. They received extensive media coverage and often were honored with tickertape parades on Broadway upon their return from space. While there were many spin-offs from the space program that have made modern life better, perhaps the most important is that the feats of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts inspired a generation of children to pursue technology-based careers in science and engineering. After the Apollo moonwalks and with the advent of the shuttle program in the 1980’s spaceflight became “routine” and public interest in the space program generally waned.
While Bucks County is rich in early American history, local citizens are just starting to learn that before taking to the heavens Glenn and the rest of the NASA astronauts from those early programs came to Bucks County to prepare for the rigors of space flight on the Johnsville Centrifuge, the largest and most powerful human centrifuge ever built. As a matter of fact, the centrifuge gondola (capsule) used to train Glenn and other early astronauts is on public display at the Penn State Anechoic Chamber at 300 W. Bristol Road in Warminster, having returned from a Smithsonian storage facility where it was hidden from public view for over 45 years. Plans are in the works to begin preservation work on this important artifact.
The Johnsville Centrifuge was just one of dozens of labs at the former Naval Air Development Center (NADC) in Warminster, PA where much of the technology we enjoy today was developed and tested. The Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum is a small group of dedicated volunteers working to preserve the legacy of Bucks County’s connection to the space program and to tell the story of the high tech work done at NADC, including refinements to GPS and the development of light sensitive lenses that are part of our everyday life. We believe that our area’s involvement in the space program can serve as an inspirational springboard to encourage our youth to explore the careers in technology that are so vital to our country’s future.
We encourage readers of this to use the 50th anniversary of the Friendship 7 mission as a conversation starter with their children or grandchildren. Ask them if they know who John Glenn is and what they know about the space program. Share with them what you remember about growing up in the space age. If you are old enough, tell them where you where when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. You might be surprised; you may find out they have an interest in space and might even want to become an astronaut.
With today’s “heroes” often coming from the fields of sports and entertainment, there are very few, if any, high profile role models in today’s culture to encourage children to explore science and technology careers. Additionally, local, state and federal education budgets continue to be cut in the face of mounting deficits. The museum, along with its sponsors and partners, sees it as their mission to inspire the youth of today. This past month the museum hosted the students of the Commonwealth Connections Academy and their mobile classroom and participated in the Quarry Hill Elementary School Science Fair. It continues to develop its educational outreach programs.
We salute Col. Glenn on the 50th Anniversary of his milestone mission and thank him, and all active military and veterans, for his dedicated service to our country.Michael Maguire President Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum
Dear Friend of the Museum,
It is now time to look ahead to 2012, but before we do lets reflect on the accomplishments of the past several months. As we look back on 2011 we realize that we have had a very good year indeed. Our success is entirely due to our friends, supporters, sponsors and our tireless volunteers. A few highlights from 2011 include:
- The return of the Mercury 7 Gondola to Warminster on May 5th coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Alan Shepard’s historic flight. The gondola was held at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Air and Space Museum’s storage yard in Suitland, Maryland for the past 47 years. Special thanks to Comcast and the History Channel for making the move possible.
- A wonderful Spring Gala held in May and highlighted by two special guests, Art Guntner who assisted the Mercury Astronauts and who rode the centrifuge over 350 times himself related his unique oral history. He was joined by Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer for the Fels Planetarium at the Franklin Institute who delivered an inspiring story of his own.
- The return of the Iron Maiden in August brought out many who worked with Flannigan Grey when he set his near unbeatable world record with the device in 1958.
- A wonderful time at Warminster Day in September where we had an opportunity to display some exhibits in our “Museum in the Park” that are on loan from the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in Maryland. We were also fortunate to have the weather cooperate for a flyover by a Navy F-18 that thanks to the coordination and support of Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick. The pilot was called in by NADC’s own Bob Campbell.
- A special “friendraising” evening on December 8th at the Campbell Classic Auto Museum in Doylestown where supporters got to see some of the centrifuge couches that we have acquired from the National Air and Space Museum.
We could not have done any of these things or achieved any of our goals in 2011 without volunteers or supporters like you who have given so much of their time to make the museum the success that it has become.
We look forward to a busy and exciting 2012 as we continue to raise funds to preserve the Mercury 7 Gondola, make plans to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of John Glenn’s historic orbital flight in February and hold our Third Annual Spring Gala in April. Our education programs kick off in January with a visit form a traveling classroom followed shortly by our first participation in a science fair in February. We look forward to another special year as we create a place that honors the history of innovation at NADC and inspires our youth to reach for the stars in all that they do.
Thank you for your support.
Johnsville Centrifuge & Science Museum
Our popular lottery calendars are back for 2012. A $15 donation gets you a three digit number. Every night of 2012, based on the number drawn in PA Lottery evening drawing, one lucky calendar holder will win an amount from $15 to $100. It’s a great way to support a great organization with a chance to win your donation back every day of the year. Even better, if your number comes up more than once in the year, you can win multiple times. Check with your favorite museum volunteer or stop by between 1 and 4 pm on the first or third Sunday of the month. We will also be in the community throughout December at the following locations. Stop by, say hi, and get your calendar for 2012. Heck, get a few! They make great stocking stuffers.
Calendar Sales Locations
Friday, December 9th 5 pm to 8 pm: Ben Wilson Sr. Center, 580 Delmont Avenue, Warminster, PA 18974
Saturday, December 10th 8 am to 1 pm: Ben Wilson Sr. Center, 580 Delmont Avenue, Warminster, PA 18974
Saturday, December 17th 11 am to 4 pm: Shop n Bag, 1025 Second Street Pike, Richboro, PA 18954
Sunday, December 18th 11 am to 4 pm: Redner’s Market, 1661 Easton Rd., Warrington, PA 18976
Saturday, December 31st 11 am to 4 pm: Shop n Bag, 1025 Second Street Pike, Richboro, PA 18954
Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum to Showcase Artifacts on Loan from Patuxent River Naval Air Museum
Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum will be participating in this year’s Warminster Day this Saturday, September 10 from 11AM to 4PM at Warminster Community Park by featuring some recently acquired artifacts that have never been on display in the local area in a unique “Museum in the Park” setting.
Among the artifacts to be displayed will be a 1970s era test wing from an early pilotless drone and the 1950 dedication plaque from the centrifuge building, both of which are on loan from the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum (http://paxmuseum.com). In addition, a rare fiberglass contour couch that was used for training in the centrifuge will be on display. The contour couch was acquired by the museum from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.
NASA Ambassador Presentations
to Occur Throughout the Day
Also included in the program will be Dr. Ann Schmiedekamp, NASA Solar System Ambassador and Professor of Physics at Penn State University, who will be giving presentations throughout the day on the challenges involved in interplanetary travel. Dr. Schmiedekamp is one of a handful of NASA Solar System Ambassadors in the country.
Special Interpretive Programs to be Offered
at Mercury 7 Gondola
The museum will also be providing a special interpretive program at the Mercury 7 Gondola – the original centrifuge capsule that was in use from 1950 through 1963 which was brought back to Warminster earlier this year after 47 years in storage at the Smithsonian Institution. All of the Mercury and Gemini astronauts stepped into the Mercury 7 Gondola as part of their training.
In addition, Art Guntner, a retired Naval Chief who rode the Johnsville Centrifuge over 350 times and who personally helped to train the Mercury astronauts will be available to meet attendees and share his stories.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the Tricentennial festivities at Warminster Day this year,’ said Michael Maguire, President of the museum. “In its day NADC was the largest employer in the county where many important technical developments were made. We feel it fitting that we will be exhibiting these artifacts at an event that is taking place on the old runway of the facility. We are especially thankful to the Pax River Museum for the loan of these artifacts as well as to NASA and Dr. Schmiedekamp for generously agreeing to be a part of this event. It will be quite a day.”
Mre informaiton about Warminster Day can be found here: Warminster Day Website
“Iron Maiden” Used to Set Standing World Record Comes Home
An important research tool once used to test theories about submerging the human body in water to lessen the effects of G forces encountered during space flight is returning to Bucks County after a 15 year absence.
Flashback… On December 7, 1958 Bucks County native and research scientist R. Flanagan Gray climbed inside a full body enclosure that looked like something out of a Jules Verne novel. Resembling a cast aluminum deep sea diving suit, Gray’s “Iron Maiden” was unique in many ways. One was that it was designed to keep water in. Another was that it was designed to be attached to largest and most powerful human centrifuge the world has ever seen.
After donning a special mask and goggles designed for high-g’s Gray submerged himself in the water that filled the tank and inserted a breathing tube in his mouth. He took a deep breath and held it. With a nod of his head, he signaled that he was ready for his research associates to take the world renowned Johnsville Centrifuge to it’s maximum. The ride eventually took Gray to 31.25 Gs sustained for approximately 5 seconds. By the time the run was over, Gray was exhuasted, quite worse for wear and a world record holder. Since then, noone has attempted to match his extraordinary feat.
Located, at the Johnsville Naval Air Development Center (NADC) in Warminster, PA, the centrifuge, known in the day as Aviation Medical Acceleration Laboratory (AMAL) was one of 31 laboratories on the base. When NADC was shuttered in 1996, the Iron Maiden was moved to the Naval Air base at Patuxent River, MD and placed on display at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum. The important artifact is now on loan to the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum for the next two years. Following the arrival of the Mercury 7 Gondola this past May, the Iron Maiden is the second major artifact of historical importance to be brought home to Bucks County by the museum.
The Iron Maiden will be on public display at the Bucks County Visitors Center at 3207 Street Road, Bensalem from August 31 through September 23.
“We are excited to bring this important piece of history back to Bucks County,” said Michael Maguire, President of the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum. “The centrifuge was one of the many labs at NADC where pioneering technology that touches our everyday life was developed. Once you see the Iron Maiden and imagine being sealed inside of it, you can’t help but be amazed by the dedication of all the scientists and engineers at NADC. We are thrilled that the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is loaning this artifact to us. ”
May 5, 2011 was a historic day for Bucks County as the original gondola of the Johnsville Centrifuge that was used for training America’s early space heroes returned to Warminster. It had spent the last 47 years at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration and Storage Facility of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Suitland, Maryland.
All of America’s pioneering astronauts, including Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong trained at the Johnsville Centrifuge prior to their historic space missions. In 1963 the gondola was replaced by a larger gondola to accommodate the three wide configuration needed to train for the Apollo missions. Shortly after its replacement it was transferred to the Smithsonian by the US Navy and has remained at the Garber facility ever since. The gondola has recently been “deaccessioned” (taken off the books) by the Smithsonian with ownership transferring to the Johnsville Centrifuge & Science Museum.
A special “Welcome Home” ceremony was held at the Bucks County Visitors Center for the Gondola on the date that marked the 50th Anniversary of the Mercury mission that placed Alan Shepard as the First American in Space. The move of the Gondola was made possible through a grant from History’s® Save Our History® initiative in partnership with Comcast.
We appreciate the support of all of our friends and partners, including Banacom Signs of Warminster, PA, The Bucks County Conference and Visitors Bureau, Clear Channel Communications, R. T. Hankinson Trucking of Ottsville, PA, Operating Engineers Local 542, Fort Washington, PA, Penn State University, Warminster Township, the many community leaders and politicians that wrote letters to the Smithsonian on our behalf, the staff and Management of the National Air and Space Museum and our many dedicated volunteers. We also appreciate the coverage of the local press, including Action News, Eyewitness News, Patch.com, The Daily Intelligencer, The Bucks County Herald and the many other local newspapers that sent photographers and reporters. We would like to extend a special thanks to History and Comcast for their generous support in the form of a $10,000 Save Our History® grant which enabled us to move the Gondola.
It has been a busy couple of weeks but rewarding in the end. There were many exciting and memorable moments. We loaded the gondola in the rain, but did not feel a drop. Along the way we saw countless cars slow in the passing lane and jockey for position in order to get a picture. We were delayed at the weigh station in Maryland so the state troopers could get a closer look at our historic load and pose next to it. As we drove along I-95 in Philadelphia, the good people at Clear Channel Communications saluted the Gondola’s return with a special message on their digital billboards. Before our arrival at the Bucks County Visitors Center we stopped at the Neil Armstrong Middle School to make sure that all of the banners were in place and our flags were able to fly free. We were greeted by the press and our enthusiastic friends at the Bucks County Visitors Center where the public got their first chance to see the Gondola up close in 47 years!
After that we were escorted by police and fire trucks all the way up Street Road, finally working our way to the Penn State Anechoic Chamber at 300 East Bristol Road in Warminster. There are no words to describe the feeling when the Gondola was finally offloaded and placed on its concrete pad to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd. It was truly an inspirational moment.
Check out this video of the homecoming of the Mercury 7 Gondola from Patch.com. Make sure to watch in in full screen mode.
Below is the text of an editorial that appeared in the Daily Intelligencer on Monday, May 9, 2011.
History made here
America’s space program has roots in Warminster
IT WAS ALL so new then, so unfamiliar, so much like something out of Capt. Video: On May 5, 1961 – 50 years ago – astronaut Alan B. Shepard, one of the original seven U.S. astronauts, became the first American in outer space.
The Russians had beaten us to manned flight – Yuri Gagarin did it in April of that year – just as they had shocked the United States and the world years earlier with the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite.
By comparison, Gagarin’s ride – a 108-minute orbital trip – made Shepard’s 15-minute suborbital journey seem like a walk across the street.
Nevertheless, Shepard was hailed as a national hero with parades in several cities. President John F. Kennedy awarded him a medal. More importantly, Shepard’s “foot in the space door” launched America’s manned space program, which eventually overtook the Soviet Union’s and culminated with the first moon landing, Apollo 11, in July 1969. Shepard himself would walk on the moon in 1971 as the commander of Apollo 14.
Shepard retired from NASA in 1974 and died of leukemia on July 21, 1998, 21 years to the day after the first moon walk. Though he’ll never be forgotten as America’s first space pioneer, he’s back in the news for a couple of reasons.
Last week, the U.S. Postal Service issued a first-class stamp in Shepard’s honor.
And in an event much closer to home, the original centrifuge gondola that Shepard trained in during Project Mercury was returned to Warminster Township, where the former Johnsville Naval Air Development Center once was home to the world’s largest human centrifuge. The arrival of the gondola on May 5 coincided with the 50th anniversary of Shepard’s first flight.
Many other astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs came to the NADC to ride the gondola and experience the effects of high G-forces that they would later be subjected to during launches.
After its days of spinning astronauts were over, the gondola became part of the collection at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington. But its place at the Smithsonian for well over four decades – in an outside storage yard, away from public view – hardly did proper justice to such a key contributor to the U.S. space program.
According to the Johnsville Centrifuge and Science Museum website, the return of the gondola to its home in Warminster is part of the Save Our History campaign sponsored by The History Channel.
Eventually, the gondola will be displayed at the centrifuge building.
That our early astronauts prepared for their journeys right in our own backyard is not a particularly well-known chapter in the story of America’s space program. The centrifuge gondola’s homecoming is a good reason to learn about the role Bucks County played in the nation’s early exploration of the final frontier.