'Become a Pilot' day held at Smithsonian in Virginia

Gene Briener (left) poses with his plane. (Photo: Jenn White/ABC7)

(AP, WJLA) — The Smithsonian added another plane to its fleet of historical planes. After one last flight this morning the "Fleet Model," that once was used to train civilians becoming pilots in World War II, will now be in the museum.

The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum facility near Dulles International Airport held its annual "Become a Pilot" family day Saturday.

The museum showcased 50 vintage, military and home-built aircraft for the event.

Gene Briener, a pilot, donated the rare plane during today's event and reflected on his memories of flying it.

"It's you and the airplane and the lord," Briener said.

Pilots discussed their experiences in the cockpit. In some cases, they will let visitors climb behind the controls of their aircraft. There will also be activities inside the museum.

Dorothy Cochrane, the curator for general aviation for the Smithsonian Institution, said that the open-air biplanes on display have a special energy to them.

"You've got the wind flying through your hair," Briener said. "It's called seat-of-your-pants flying. You can feel every movement of the aircraft."

Watch ABC7 at 11 p.m. Saturday for Sunlen Miller's report.

{ }