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Media Contact: 

Shell Amega or Paula Wagner
(213) 744-7496

August 26, 2003
California Science Center
Crowns New Parking Structure with Unique A-12 Blackbird Plane
To Herald the Centennial of Flight

Los Angeles - California Science Center CEO and President Jeff Rudolph has announced that a unique A-12 Blackbird spy plane (the CIA version of the U.S. Air Force SR-71 Blackbird) will be installed on Thursday, August 28 atop a newly constructed subterranean parking structure set to open in December. The A-12, known for traveling much faster than the speed of sound, is fabricated entirely of titanium and this particular aircraft is the only A-12 trainer ever constructed. It has also flown more flights and spent more hours in the air than any other A-12. The Blackbird exhibit installation heralds the upcoming California Science Center "Centennial of Flight Festival" celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers historic flight at Kitty Hawk.

The festival, which takes place Nov. 15 and 16, will feature a fully restored flying replica of the Wright Brothers’ 1902 glider, interactive exhibits, storytelling, hands-on workshops and presentations. From the Wright Glider to the supersonic A-12 Blackbird, visitors will see the progress humans have made in aviation and learn some of the challenges faced in designing air and spacecraft. Classic large-format films shown in the Science Center IMAX Theater, such as To FLY, Silent Sky and crowd-favorite Space Station 3D, will take audiences up into the wild-blue yonder. In addition, the MicrosoftTM 1903 Wright Flyer Simulator will be on hand, allowing guests a virtual experience of the thrill and excitement of the Wright Brothers historic flight. Another special highlight will include a military flyover along with flyovers of selected historic aircraft.

The Science Center, dedicated to inspiring science learning in fun and memorable ways, will use the parking structure as a creative exhibit space for another huge exhibit as well - a giant lever that will allow guests to lift a large truck, donated by Toyota.

The arrival of the A-12 last week was enthusiastically followed by Blackbird buffs. The A-12 was assembled on-site to prepare it for installation on three pylons. It marks the latest addition to the Science Center’s singular collection of planes and spacecraft, most of which are housed in or near the Science Center’s Air & Space Gallery. “We are pleased to provide this A-12 exhibit as an example of the incredible science and technology that has taken place in the arena of air and space since the Wright Brother’s successful flight a century ago,” said CEO Jeff Rudolph.

The parking lot is a welcome addition to the Science Center, which vies with the Getty Center as the most popular museum destination in the Los Angeles metropolitan region with an attendance of approximately 1.3 million visitors per year. It has received more than 7.7 million visitors since opening in February 1998.

The Science Center commissioned McCarthy Building Companies Inc., one of the nation’s leading parking structure builders, to construct the $21.3 million parking structure at the site of the existing California Science Center surface parking lot on 39th Street and Figueroa Street. A time-lapse view of the A-12 assembly and parking lot construction is available on the Science Center’s website at www.californiasciencecenter.org. The structure is one of numerous improvements and expansions prescribed in the vision of the Science Center ‘s Master Plan, which includes the Science Center School scheduled to open in September 2004.

When completed, the subterranean parking structure will provide 2,073 parking spaces on 4 levels, for all guests attending museums and events in Exposition Park. Other park institutions that will benefit from the parking structure include the California African American Museum, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Sports Arena, the Exposition Park Intergenerational Community Center (EPICC), Swim Stadium and City of Los Angeles Rose Garden.

The project architect for the parking structure is International Parking Design / Frame Design Group of Sherman Oaks, Calif. Zimmer Gunsul Frasca of Los Angeles provided design for the site work and Katherine Spitz, Inc. created the landscape design.

Editor's Note: The California Science Center is located at 700 State Drive – Exposition Park, Los Angeles. Enter visitor parking at 39th & Figueroa; parking is $6 per car. Activities are on all three floors of the Science Center. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to Science Center exhibits is free; for general information, phone 323.SCIENCE (323.724-3623) or visit our website at http://www.californiasciencecenter.org/. Both the Science Center and IMAX Theater are wheelchair accessible.

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