CHANTILLY, Va. - A small group of
protesters briefly disrupted the official opening of the National Air and
Space Museum's new annex at Dulles International Airport Monday, spilling
a red liquid supposed to resemble blood near the Enola Gay exhibit and
throwing an object that dented the airplane.
Two men were arrested after security broke up the demonstration. Thomas
K. Siemer, 73, of Columbus, Ohio, was charged with felony destruction of
property and loitering, while Gregory Wright of Hagerstown, Md., faced a
misdemeanor loitering charge.
Several elderly atomic bomb survivors from Japan also expressed dismay
that information on the effects of the bomb dropped by the Enola Gay on
Hiroshima Aug. 6, 1945, was not included in the exhibit.
"If they want to show these planes, that's fine but we can't help but
also demand that they show the damage and the stories that take place
behind these weapons," said Terumi Tanaka, 71, a survivor of the Nagasaki
atomic bomb attack which occurred three days after Hiroshima.
A total of 230,000 people were killed in the two attacks. Japan
surrendered unconditionally six days after the Nagasaki bombing.
Some visitors at the opening of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center said,
however, they considered the Enola Gay an important part of aviation
"The Hiroshima bomb started the whole nuclear age, that's why I wanted
to see it," said Philip Wheaton, 78, of Takoma Park, Md.
The Enola Gay is one of 82 racers, gliders, helicopters, warplanes and
airliners currently on display in the Smithsonian Institution (news
web sites)'s nearly 294,000-square-foot aviation exhibit hanger. Other
notable exhibits include the S-R 71 Blackbird, an American spy plane that
still holds the record as the fastest plane ever built; and the space
shuttle Enterprise (news
web sites), which was used by NASA (news
web sites) to test various concepts during the development of reusable
The Smithsonian's aerospace collection also will eventually be
displayed in the 53,000 square foot James S. McDonnell Space hanger.
"This is the largest air and space exhibition complex in the world,"
said retired Gen. John R. Dailey, director of the museum. "We have about
40 percent of the aircraft in here today, and over the next three years
we'll be moving more in."
Visitors, for the most part, said they were impressed with the new
"Seeing all of these aircraft fully assembled is getting to see
history," said Ray Kimball, 30, of Menloe Park, Calif. The Army helicopter
pilot toured the facility with his three year-old son. "I'll have to bring
him back when he's older."