Airstream has been making its hand-built trailers for 90 years, and now it finally has a new heritage center in Jackson Center, Ohio. The new “Mothership”, as the company and its fans call it, is full of Airstreams and artifacts detailing the story of an icon.
“For years we’ve searched for the right way to celebrate our history, and our new Heritage Center is a testament to the products that have inspired generations of travelers and the people who have made this brand an American icon,” said Bob Wheeler. , President and CEO of Airstream. “The vintage models, memorabilia, journals and films on display clearly illustrate how an Airstream is more than just a recreational vehicle – it’s a ship that holds the stories accumulated over years of travel and adventure. adventures.”
Here’s a look at some of the highlights of our trip to the museum.
Introduced in 1936, the Clipper is the first riveted aluminum semi-monocoque airflow and was highly customizable. This original 1938 model on display features a wooden interior, stainless steel kitchen and other elements, like gnarled wallpaper in the bathroom, all of which are part of the charm that gives the Clipper model its nickname, “Old Granddad”.
1948 Little Wind
After working jobs in the aircraft industry during World War II, Airstream founder Wally Byam returned to his original motorhome design with some improvements in 1947 with a new version, the Wee Wind. The tiny 16ft motorhome is one of the rarest Airstreams ever produced. Ruby, the model on display at the new museum, still has the original paint, upholstery, stainless steel galley and wood cabinetry, a testament to the original build quality and care of Airstream owners.
Gold Africa Airstream
In 1951, Byam led a group of campers across Mexico and Central America, starting a phenomenon known as the Airstream Caravan, with an official club formed a few years later. In 1959, Byam’s band traveled from Cape Town, South Africa to Cairo, Egypt in their now famous gold-painted Airstream.
The gold Airstream was one of the first test models to be able to travel without external connections with an “international self-containment package”. It was also one of the first Airstreams specifically designed to maximize living space for two people.
Wally’s White Airflow
In 1956 the caravan traveled to Europe for the first time and Wally painted his 1955 Cruiser to match his Cadillac tow truck on a trip. This model was recently restored, sourcing period artifacts like a Solex moped, typewriter and old radio to match exactly what Wally traveled with in Europe.
In the 1960s, NASA commissioned Airstream to custom-build four purpose-built isolation chambers for astronauts returning from space, which were often isolated for a brief period of adjustment and inspection right after landing. landing. Later, mobile quarantine facilities were used for lunar landing astronauts, who were quarantined in case of unknown or dangerous space pathogens for us here on Earth.
The model pod in the museum is a replica, but they also have the real Astrovan, a modified Airstream Excella motorhome.
The Astrovan was used during the days of NASA’s space shuttle program, ferrying astronauts to and from the shuttles before and after spaceflight.