Project to close Smithsonian wing
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is closing its west wing for a $37 million renovation. The wing’s political history and first ladies exhibits will be shown in other galleries during the 2 1/2-year renovation.
When the west wing reopens in 2015, it will include new exhibits exploring the history of American business, innovation, democracy and culture. It will also include an education center and a new Hall of Music.
Aeroflot Russian Airlines has begun flying three weekly nonstops between Miami and Moscow.
American Airlines starts direct flights four times a week between Asuncion, Paraguay, and Miami on Friday and weekly nonstop service between Miami and Roatán, Honduras, on Saturday.
SmartWings Airlines will offer first-ever direct flights between Miami and Prague in the Czech Republic on Dec. 19. The flight will operate twice a week.
The National Park Service has closed most of the roads in Yellowstone National Park. The agency closes roads to most of the park’s popular tourist destinations so workers can prepare them for commercially guided snowmobile and snow coach travel, which starts Dec. 15.
The road that travels from Gardiner, through Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Junction and Lamar Valley to Cooke City remains open all year.
Butterfly flies free
A lagging monarch butterfly has made the trip from Albany, N.Y., to Texas with help from a commercial plane and an insect lover.
Passenger Maraleen Manos-Jones on Monday carefully transported the butterfly on a Southwest Airlines flight to San Antonio.
Manos-Jones first spotted the female butterfly in late September when it was still mid-metamorphosis near her home. Realizing it would be too cold for the newly emerged monarch to head south on its own to winter in Mexico, she contacted Dallas-based Southwest, which agreed to fly Manos-Jones and the butterfly to San Antonio for free.
Safety with Hobbits
Those Kiwis at Air New Zealand are at it again. In the past, they have produced airplane safety videos featuring nude flight attendants, fitness guru Richard Simmons and a plane full of rugby players.
The latest video, unveiled last week, stars t hobbits, wizards, elves, dwarfs and orcs from the Lord of the Rings movies, which relied on New Zealand for most of the outdoor scenes. The video includes a cameo by the films’ director, Peter Jackson.