Smithsonian Channel // 2009 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ian Visser (Retired) // June 11th, 2009
Where dreams take flight.
America holds a unique place in the history of aviation. In less than seventy years Americans went from a short flight on a beach in North Carolina to planting a flag on the moon. In between these two monumental events came the development of air mail services, the building of passenger aircraft, and the breaking of the sound barrier. Preserving this rich history is the mandate of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, which collects and maintains examples of America's flying history.
America's Hangar provides viewers with an overview of the museum's collections, its responsibilities, and its growth as an institution. In addition to reviewing airborne pioneers and their daring efforts, America's Hangar provides a look at the museum's extensive collections of kites, rockets, planes, jets, lunar modules, and related memorabilia. Several individual curators and their galleries, including World War Two, the Cold War, and Space are also featured.
Background on the museum and its development demonstrates how the museum grew from a few individual pieces to the largest collection in the world. America's Hangar details how the Smithsonian designed and built the massive display facilities that currently house the thousands of examples the museum holds (it takes a lot of space to display planes). Among the most interesting features are interviews with the Smithsonian staff charged with the preservation and restoration efforts that the museum undertakes.
America's Hangar suffers as result of its runtime of just 60 minutes. With more than 50,000 items in the collection, I certainly wasn't expecting an in-depth examination of the museum's entire holdings. America's Hangar is more of an hour-long infomercial for the museum rather than a compelling summary of American aviation history. It may touch on one particular aircraft, pilot, or era, but after a few moments the focus switches to the next example of flight history, and those with further questions will need to look elsewhere. This release won't appeal to serious aviation buffs; the best audience might be those taking a trip to Washington and who need more information about the museum than what they can find on the Internet.
The technical aspects of America's hanger are top notch. The widescreen image is crisp and without defects, and both the Dolby Digital 2-channel and 5-channel surround offerings are clear and well-mixed. English subtitles round out the package.
America's Hangar is a mile wide but only an inch deep. Those looking for general information about the Air and Space Museum will be satisfied; those searching for an in-depth review of America's aviation history will not.
Not guilty, but the court is assigning a tough parole officer.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Smithsonian Channel
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* National Air and Space Museum