Lockheed Martin Celebrates 10 years with TSM


"Ivor Dawson --Traveling Space Museum ––Celebrating Ten Years Space Day in Riverside, CA May 9, 2008 ––Lockheed Martin"

Longfellow Elementary School in Riverside Ca. experienced the largest Traveling Space Museum "Space Day" in history with more than 40 attractions, 1000 students, an astronaut visit and even the rare appearance of a legendary test pilot on May 9, 2008.

Since 1998, Lockheed-Martin Corporation and TSM have co-produced "Space Day" events in Riverside — initially at Grant Elementary and then, for the last seven years, at Longfellow Elementary. As in the previous nine years, dozens of Lockheed-Martin personal from all across the country converged on Riverside CA. and bivouacked at the world famous Mission Inn Hotel. On the day before a show, the LMCO folks would await the TSM trucks carrying the big attractions for the show to arrive in the schoolyard. After exhibits are established across the campus, tradition calls for the two groups to sit down to a great dinner in one of the Hotel dining rooms.

Space Day Riverside 2008 would begin with a slight variation. Before a crowded auditorium of Riverside community and business leaders, school district officials, students and the local press, Lockheed–Martin took time out to honor TSM and its founder, Ivor Dawson and a ten-year partnership of Space Days in Riverside.

Front Lawn

"TSM founder, Ivor Dawson receives Space Shuttle trophy from Lockheed Martin VP, Gail Rymer. (Photo by Darryl Armstrong)

Riverside Space Days have featured many astronauts over the years including Hall of Fame Space Shuttle astronaut, Dan Brandenstein. Space Day 2008 would be no different as astronaut Rick Hieb was on hand to inspire the students with a great presentation. This Space Day would also feature the appearance of its first ever Test Pilot Hall of Fame guest speaker, Robert Gilliland. Best known as the first to fly the SR–71 Blackbird, Bob Gilliland holds numerous altitude and speed records in all manner of aircraft including the "Blackbird" and its predecessors — the A–11, A–12 and the YF–12A.


(Image of Gilliland courtesy of Roadrunners Internationale)

On Space Day, Bob Gilliland held court in a classroom for hours as groups of students rotated in and out to experience his slide show and a large–scale model of a SR–71 set up for students to see and touch. Bob took the time to explain to even the youngest of students what he did as a 'test pilot' and why his job was important to America. Many got him to autograph cardboard cutouts of the "Blackbird" distributed to the children by Lockheed–Martin. So great was Bob’s reputation among TSM presenters —most of whom are pilots — that it was arranged for all of them to see Bob’s presentations in shifts. Another TSM first! Among the observers included special guest speaker, astronaut Rick Hieb, who logged over 750 in space!

A Korean War vet, Gilliland joined Lockheed in 1960 and quickly became a favorite of Lockheed executive Clarence "Kelly" Johnson. On December 22, 1964, Gilliland was the first man to fly the SR–71A, taking the aircraft to Mach 1.5 and an altitude of 50,000 feet. It is important to TSM that young students meet World War II and Korean War veterans to hear for themselves the adventures of the "greatest generation." Telling the story of the advance of aviation and rocketry through those war years remains the hallmark of a TSM "Space Day."

Other highlights that day included the annual visit of the FIRST Robotics Team 980 — "The ThunderBots." Each year, a new Team 980 must build from scratch a robot capable of executing complicated maneuvers in national competitions created by 'Segway' inventor, Dean Kaman. "he Thunderbots" is composed of students from several different small private high schools near Pasadena who are consistent Southern California Champions and Space Day favorites.

This super Space Day also featured the "Ray Holt Collection" of rarely seen autographed lunar and space memorabilia. Some items used on the moon include Alan Shepard’s flashlight, a Hasselblad camera and training garments worn by Neil Armstrong The collection also includes a rare boilerplate model of a micro satellite placed into orbit around the moon by Apollo astronauts.

While many education experts are quick to bemoan the lack of long term space education programs, many Longfellow students can proudly proclaim that they have experienced Space Day events every year for seven years going back to their days in pre–kindergarten. TSM believes that these students should be monitored to see what effect the "Space Day" experience has on their future career decisions and scholastic successes and. And if this program is a success to any degree shouldn’t all students in Riverside have this experience?


Gilliland, Dawson with aviation historian, Gia Kootnz who arranged Bob’s appearance.