I have seen the real Enterprise — the 11-foot hero model — in person only once, and she was not looking her best.
I was a young teenager on a school trip in the early 1980s and the only Washington sight I really cared about was the Enterprise at the National Air and Space Museum. I am not sure how I knew, in those pre-Internet days, that she was at the museum. I probably read about the display in Starlog magazine; perhaps it was issue 7 from August 1977, which profiled the model in an earlier museum location. By the time I got there, she was hanging in the Rocketry and Spaceflight gallery.
I took these photos with a crappy little Kodak camera, and I’ve kept them for all these years. I think those grey areas just below the saucer section are tape slapped on as a quick repair, but I am not sure.
The angle of this photo taken by the museum does not include that area of the ship.
But as rough as she was back in the 80s, she was in worse shape when Paramount shipped her to the museum. Here’s a photo of that arrival, from March 1974.
And here is a wonderful gallery of images from the National Air and Space Museum.
I recently bought myself a beautiful three-foot Polar Lights model and writing about that got me thinking about the original. I hope to revisit soon, to see her restored and in her new museum display case.