“What is The Mystery Ship at the Museum of Science and Industry?” by S.M. O’Connor

Texaco No. 13, also known as The Mystery Ship, is a monoplane built in 1930 by the Travel Air Manufacturing Company of Dearborn, Michigan.[1]  Originally, it was owned by the Texas Company (commonly known as Texaco), which is now a subsidiary of the Chevron Corporation.  Captain Frank Monroe Hawks (1897-1938), a U.S. Army Air Service (now the U.S. Air Force) veteran of the First Great World War was the pilot.  He had set many speed records in Texaco-sponsored airplanes.  Hawks nearly died and Texaco No. 13 was nearly destroyed in an accident on the speed plane’s test flight, getting tangled in wires and landing nose down. On August 6, 1930, Captain Hawks flew The Mystery Ship across country from New York City to Los Angeles in 14 hours, 30 minutes, and 43 seconds.  This flight was undertaken to set a new transcontinental speed record after an even more famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974), had broken a previous one set by Hawks. Later, Captain Hawks was able to get the monoplane up to speeds of over to 200 miles per hour. He predicted that airplanes would continue to reach higher speeds and fly across greater distances.  Optimistically, he predicted that the “effect” of this “upon the aviation fraternity will be to cement closer and closer their friendship and understanding.”[2]  Texaco retired the plane in 1932, placed it on display at Chicago’s second world’s fair, A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933-34), and afterwards donated it to the Museum of Science and Industry (M.S.I.).

1Figure 1 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how Texaco No. 13 airplane, a.k.a. The Mystery Ship, looked beside the Coal Mine headframe from the Farrell Family Court balcony on Thursday, November 15, 2018.  It is hung from the ceiling as if the pilot was banking right.

16Figure 2 Credit: Seán M. O’Connor Caption: This is how the Grand Tree and standard-sized Christmas trees in the Grand Rotunda and Farrell Family Court (South Court), Toymaker 3000, the Coal Mine headframe, and Texaco No. 13 airplane looked from the Farrell Family Court balcony shortly after the opening ceremony for Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

 

Formerly, it hung suspended from the ceiling in the Transportation Gallery, also known as Grainger Court (East Court).  It now hangs suspended from the ceiling in the Farrell Family Court (South Court) near the Coal Mine (Old Ben #17) headframe.  This place was formerly occupied by a Coast Guard Seaguard helicopter, which the Coast Guard donated to the M.S.I. in 1989 and the M.S.I. transferred to the Naval Air Station Glenview Museum in Glenview, Illinois in 2006.[3]

On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, the M.S.I. reverted to regular hours (9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).  On the weekend of Saturday, November 17, 2018 and Sunday, November 18, 2018, the M.S.I. will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The M.S.I. will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 22, 2018) and the First Day of Christmas (Tuesday, December 25, 2018).  Extended hours (9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) will be in play again from Friday, November 23, 2018 to Sunday, November 25, 2018; Saturday, December 1, 2018 and Sunday, December 2, 2018; Saturday, December 8, 2018 and Sunday, December 9, 2018; Saturday, December 15, 2018 and Sunday, December 2016; Sunday, December 23, 2018; and Wednesday, December 26, 2018 through Sunday, December 30, 2018.  There will be longer hours, from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 22, 2018.  On Christmas Eve (Monday, December 24, 2018) and New Year’s Eve (Monday, December 31, 2018), the M.S.I. will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  On New Year’s Day (Tuesday, January 1, 2019), the M.S.I. will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  From Wednesday, January 2, 2019 through Friday, January 4, 2019, the M.S.I. will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Regular hours (9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) will resume on Saturday, January 5, 2019.  The Museum of Science and Industry regularly makes small adjustments to this schedule, so when planning a trip there, check this Webpage and the M.S.I.’s social media for updates.

EXTENDED HOURS AND EXCEPTIONS

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Closed

Thanksgiving Day

(Thursday, November 22, 2018)

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Sunday, November 25, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Sunday, December 2, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Sunday, December 9, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Sunday, December 16, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

 

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Christmas Eve

(Monday, December 24, 2018)

Closed

Christmas Day

(Tuesday, December 25, 2018)

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018

9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

New Year’s Eve

(Monday, December 31, 2018)

11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

New Year’s Day

(Tuesday, January 1, 2019)

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Friday, January 4, 2019

 

Often stylized as the “Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago” or the “Museum of Science + Industry” the institution is located at the northern end of the Chicago Park District’s Jackson Park, on the south side of 57th Street, between Lake Shore Drive to the east and Cornell Drive to the west, in the East Hyde Park neighborhood of the Hyde Park Community Area (Community Area #41) on the South Side of Chicago.  The address is 5700 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60637.  The M.S.I. is open every day of the year with two exceptions: Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.  On most days, it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., but during peak periods it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  The Website is https://www.msichicago.org/ and the phone number is (773) 684-1414.

 

ENDNOTES

[1] Jay Pridmore.  Inventive Genius: The History of the Museum of Science & Industry.  Chicago, Illinois: Museum of Science & Industry (1996), p. 7

[2] He was proved correct to some extent, in the latter half of the 20th Century, but the small commercial and passenger aviation services offered before the outbreak of the Second Great World War was overshadowed in the war years by fighter planes and bombers wreaking destruction across much of Europe, North Africa, and the Pacific Rim, and the comparatively peaceful postwar era has been punctuated by periodic wars and acts of terrorism that often involved states and terrorist organizations employing airplanes and helicopters to inflict massive casualties on enemies.

[3] In 1989, the United States Coast Guard donated a HH-52A Sikorsky Coast Guard Helicopter “Seaguard” CG #1459, which the Coast Guard had purchased for $500,000.  It had been stationed at Naval Air Station Glenview (more popularly known as the Glenview Naval Air Station) in Cook County north of Chicago since 1980, and flown on approximately 200 rescue missions.  At the time of the donation, the Coast Guard was replacing HH-52A model Seaguard helicopters with HH-65 Dolphins.  The helicopter was installed in the South Court above the Coal Mine entrance between 18th and 22nd of September with the opening ceremony on September 22, 1989. In 2006, the Museum of Science and Industry transferred title to the helicopter to Glenview Hanger One Foundation located at the Naval Air Station Glenview Museum.

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