USS Midway Museum uses Hovermap to virtually re-assemble and confirm their new aircraft fits in its intended exhibit.

Relocating an Aircraft Before Lifting a Finger

At the beginning of 2020, Emesent Technical Evangelist, Dr Jeremy Sofonia, was invited by the US Navy to demonstrate Hovermap’s variety of use cases, including generating accurate digital twins of navy vessels. 

The demonstration took place at the USS Midway Museum, a historic naval aircraft carrier transformed into a museum and located in downtown San Diego, California. The museum contains an extensive collection of restored aircraft, and provides a complete cross-section of carrier aviation, all contained on the decks of the Midway.

The Midway was chosen for the demonstration due to its accessibility to the general public, however, Jeremy was given special entry, prior to the museum opening and to areas that are generally restricted. 

Using traditional scanning methods, creating a digital twin for vessels like Midway would usually take a week, or more, to capture the data. Hovermap reduces this  to just a few hours. Moreover, the versatility of Hovermap deployment options facilitates data capture in challenging areas providing more complete modeling, more efficiently, in such complex environments. Although Jeremy was only there for a short time, it was long enough for his work to be noticed by others.

While conducting the scan, Jeremy was approached by one of the USS Midway Museum curators with an immediate challenge. They needed to know if a recently acquired rare and significant aircraft, the TBD Devastator would fit in a new  exhibit space prior to investing time and effort in moving the fragile aircraft .

The TBD Devastator was a torpedo bomber of the US Navy in the 1930s and saw significant combat in the early days of the Pacific Theatre. The aircraft played a key role in the  Battle of Midway, a turning point of WWII in the Pacific and the namesake of the  aircraft carrier in which it can be viewed today.

The 1:1 scale replica aircraft was created for use in the ‘Midway’ movie, and Lionsgate donated it to the museum after filming.

To fit the plane in its temporary location, the wingtips had been detached, something that would need to be considered when repositioning the plane in the Battle of Midway exhibit on the hanger deck.

Jeremy utilized Hovermap to scan the entire exterior of the plane, including one of the detached wingtips on the floor, the proposed new exhibit space and path it would take within the hangar deck in less than 20 minutes..

After processing the data, he was able to take the scan of the detached wing tip and virtually place it on each side of the plane to derive a realistic wingspan.

The last part of the process was to virtually move the plane to the new location and to answer the question of “will it fit”? The data showed that the plane could, in fact, fit even with the wings reattached. 

This video shows the point cloud of the aircraft in its original location without wingtips, and in the proposed new location, complete.

After his return to Brisbane, Jeremy received an email to let him know that they had turned his point cloud concept into reality by re-assembling and moving the TBD to its new location.

Photo courtesy of the USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway Museum curators, and the US Navy, saw firsthand how Hovermap could save them time and effort. In fact, the museum staff, from curators to the CEO, were so impressed that they shared the information with their skydiving company partner, certain that they could benefit from the data that can be produced from scans.

The ability to quickly scan an area in 3D to determine if new objects or equipment will fit is extremely useful, especially where space is limited or the items have complex shapes.  Examples include storing deck space management on oil rigs,  mobile plant logistics and factory floor management.