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DVD Review: Smithsonian Channel – Air and Space Collection

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Here is your chance to learn a lot about flight with Smithsonian Channel: Air and Space Collection, four episodes on two discs from the Smithsonian Channel.

The first disc has two programs, which aired between 2007 and 2011, and one much earlier documentary. The first program is “America’s Hangar,” a 2007 introduction to the National Air and Space Musem and the then-new Haase Museum near Dulles Airport, which houses planes and flight vehicles too large for the Space Museum. It is probably 

best for those planning a visit to the museums. The narrator will remind you of those educational films you saw in school. It’s not very exciting but some of the interviews with museum employees are interesting, especially the woman in charge of the spacesuits.

The second program, “Concorde:Flying Supersonic,”is much more engrossing, telling the story of the rise and fall of the fasted plane ever, the Concorde. It was faster than the speed of sound, rattling the earth below when it penetrated the sound barrier. It was luxurious and could get you from New York to London in just a few hours. But most experts agree it had a serious flaw, which led to tragedy and its ultimate end. The engineers, pilots and crew members interviewed here really cared for the Concorde, and that makes this film have a lot of depth and emotional resonance.

The last film on the first disc is “History in HD: America in Space.” It is a remastered edition of a documentary from the 1960s, covering the first decade of space flight and then-current plans for the future. It is really only of interest from a historical point of view and for real space fanatics, as it is, of course, extremely dated, despite a few modern commentaries.

The second disc contains one 131-minute episode from 2011, “Space Shuttle: Final Countdown,”which chronicles the 30-year history of the space shuttle program, with all its triumphs and its two major tragedies. It is a fascinating show, with interviews from astronauts, NASA engineers, and others involved in the program over the years and footage aboard the space shuttle of the astronauts at work. The footage of the 1986 Challenger tragedy is excruciating to watch for those of us who remember that day, and even for those who don’t, and so is that of the 2003 shuttle tragedy that took the lives of the seven crew members who had just finished their stint and were headed back home. /p>

Overall, this DVD collection will be a great addition to the collection of any air and space fan as well as a useful asset for students and teachers.

About Rhetta Akamatsu

I am an author of non-fiction books and an online journalist. My books include Haunted Marietta, The Irish Slaves, T'ain't Nobody's Business If I Do: Blues Women Past and Present, and Sex Sells: Women in Photography and Film.