Collings Foundation hosts Father's Day event this weekend
Admit it. Dear ol' Dad has enough Old Spice aftershave, personalized boxers and cookout aprons with a "Danger! Pop at Work" logo.
Make Father's Day special this year by letting him get up close and personal with Al Capone's Cadillac or a Folker triplane like the Red Baron used to fly.
Let Junior cut the grass for once and then drive Dad to The Collings Foundation's "Wings and Wheels Open House" this weekend in Stow.
For the sixth year, it's showing more than 90 vintage automobiles, carriages, race cars and airplanes including war craft that helped keep Americans free.
On Saturday and Sunday the Foundation's 75-acre site near Lake Boon will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
"Our goal is to provide a living lesson in history and technology through direct experience," said spokesman Hunter Chaney.
Established by Bob Collings in 1979, the Collings Foundation supports about 150 "living history" events across the country annually. A nonprofit, it maintains an extensive collection of automobiles and aircraft to fulfill its mission to "preserve the machines that helped build the world and helped keep it free and to educate future generations about them."
Visitors will see mostly operational aircraft from the late 19th century to the Vietnam conflict as well as 50 rare automobiles including classics from the Roaring '20s, Indianapolis 500 race cars, sports and midget racers and an M-16 Half Track even Mom could park at Shoppers World.
For a special treat, the foundation is bringing together a Nazi combat robot called Goliath and a pair of high-tech American military robots used today to help protect U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"This is the first time we've had this magnitude of military robots," said Chaney.
Representing the next generation of American engineering innovation, the Robotics Team from Nashoba Regional High School in Bolton will show a robot students built for a national competition.
Team tri-captain Ramesh Govindan said 20 students from the 9th to 12th grades spent six weeks building a robot according to specifications for a national competition organized by FIRST, or For Inspiration & Recognition of Science and Technology, which was developed by inventor Dean Kamen.
Supervised by physics teacher and club director Al Fordiani, students built a mobile battery-powered, computer-directed 4-foot-tall robot with a telescoping arm and pneumatically-actuated claws. Designed and built entirely by students, the robot had to meet competition objectives, such as moving around a track counterclockwise while scooping up 10-pound balls and throwing them over a 6 1/2-foot overpass.
An 11th-grader from Lancaster, Govindan said Nashoba's robotics team won its regional competition but didn't make it into the national championships.
"Showing our robot at the Collings Foundation will be really fun. You get to see how excited all the little kids are," he said. "It's really fun to interact with the audience and show them how we made our robot."
Built for more malign reasons, the German robot nicknamed Goliath provides a grim example of technology misused for heinous purposes.
Germany produced 7,500 Goliaths that were packed with high explosives. Steering by remote control, an operator tried to crash it into targets like massed infantry or tanks and then detonate it.
One of the few surviving examples of its kind, Goliath was used by the Nazis on several fronts, most notoriously against Jewish resistance fighters in the Warsaw ghetto. Chaney said some Goliaths were used against Allied forces at Normandy Beach on D-Day 1944.
Compared to the low-tech Goliath, two American robots, named TALON and SWORD, are marvels of cutting-edge technology.
Made by Foster-Miller Inc. of Waltham, these robots look like futuristic weapons featured in "Terminator" movies. Resembling a miniature tractor with an extended arm, the 125-pound remote-controlled TALON is used to disarm roadside bombs planted by terrorists or neutralize explosives that would otherwise have to be handled by military personnel.
Currently used in Iraq, SWORD is a remote-controlled tracked vehicle that can be armed with machine guns, grenade launchers or antitank rockets. To ensure public safety, SWORD won't be armed this weekend.
Chaney said the oldest autos displayed this weekend will be a 1901 Oldsmobile Curved Dash and a battery-powered 1906 Pope Waverly Electric Carriage.
Noting early automakers looked for alternative fuels, he said the 1908 Stanley Steamer Touring Car reached speeds of 20 mph without using fossil fuels. "A couple of gallons of water could get you 20 miles," he said.
Chaney said this years's Fathers Day activities are the first of three expanded major weekend events in 2008.
On Aug. 16 and 17, the Foundation will host "Race of the Century" that which will pit "cars against cars, planes against planes and cars against planes," he said.
The founder's son, Rob Collings, will fly several airplanes including a replica 1909 Bleriot that was the first to cross the English Channel. Other races will pit a Stutz Bearcat car against an early 20th century plane.
On Oct. 11 and 12, Chaney said the Foundation will host "one of the most memorable events of its kind in the U.S." a two-day re-enactment of a World War II attack on an airport featuring nearly 100 authentically equipped re-enactors, a German Stuka divebomber, tanks and a German half-track.
"As the Foundation grows, we want to strengthen our educational exhibits so visitors can experience all the tactile sensations of our fight for freedom," he said. "If we excite people, they might go on to learn what occurred in the 20th century under Nazism, Fascism and Totalitarianism. Only by knowing our history better can we educate ourselves enough to dictate our future."
"Wings and Wheels Open House" takes place Father's Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15, at the Collings Foundation headquarters at 137 Barton Road, Stow.
A donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children is requested.
Flight times for 30-minute and hour-long flights in a PT-17 Spearman biplane and AT-6 single wing Texan Trainer have been extended to run from Friday, June 13, to Wednesday, June 18. Half-hour rides in the Spearman are $200 and 60-minute rides in the Texan Trainer are $400.
For more information about the Collings Foundation, visit www.collingsfoundation.org.