Okay, a bit of backstory: During the production of the original Star Trek, there came a point where a storyline required a smaller craft to carry characters away from the Enterprise in order to place them in that week’s helping of mortal danger. Thus, the “shuttlecraft” mentioned in Gene Roddenberry’s original show notes finally was built. In addition to the small filming model used to shoot scenes of the shuttle in space, there also was constructed a “full-size” mockup of the vessel for use with the actors on set. The Galileo made its onscreen debut in the first season episode “The Galileo Seven,” and then appeared sporadically throughout the rest of the series.
When the show was cancelled in 1969, its sets were struck, and some things like props, models, costumes and so on were placed in storage. The full-size Galileo prop went through some interesting times following the end of series, starting out as a playground accessory at the The Braille Institute in Los Angeles before changing hands with a couple of private collectors. One of those collectors invested considerable time, effort, and money to restore the Galileo, and in 1986 it was displayed at a Star Trek convention in Anaheim, California. As I was living out there at the time, I got to go to that convention, where I snapped this picture with my crappy 110 camera:
Actually, that’s two pics snapped and then spliced together, as the area where the shuttle was situated behind a curtain didn’t allow me to step back far enough to get the whole thing in one shot. Thanks to David Mack and his PhotoShop skills, the original seam seen here in the preview version has been removed.
A few years later, the shuttle was purchased by another collector, Lynne Miller of Akron, Ohio. Ms. Miller had grand plans for the Galileo, hoping to complete its restoration and eventually have it displayed at the National Air & Space Museum as a companion piece to the original Enterprise filming model. Unfortunately, those plans were derailed, and the shuttle was moved from one storage facility to another over the next few years, before it seemed to disappear altogether. For years, rumors circulated that it had been moved from its last known location in Akron, bought by another collector and kept hidden away, or even that it may have been destroyed as part of a larger clearing effort on the property where it was last known to be stored. Various efforts to ascertain the lost Galileo‘s whereabouts were thwarted for one reason or another, and the prop’s fate became one of those “unsolved mysteries” of fandom.
(Shameless Whoring: Issues 32-38 of the Star Trek Magazine feature an extended story arc of David Reddick’s comic strip, The Trek Life, in which the strip’s main characters set off on a quest to find the Galileo. Their adventure even takes them to Akron. The story, written by me and editor Paul Simpson, was inspired by this very “mystery,” and in fact is an offshoot of an idea I’d originally had for a sequel to a story I’ve pestered you about in recent years, The Enterprise Job.)
Amazingly, it seems that the shuttle has been found!!! Rather than being located in a mysterious warehouse in South Dakota, or that place where they stuffed the Lost Ark, the Galileo has apparently been right there in Akron this entire time, and still in the possession of Lynne Miller.
Late last month, Ms. Miller began posting comments to this thread on Doug Drexler’s blog, The Drex Files, letting folks know that she still has the shuttle, disassembled and stored in her basement. She is attempting to find a suitable home for it, as well as see to a proper restoration. Unfortunately, she’s had to endure a lion’s share of broken promises and unrealized dreams with respect to her efforts to care for the Galileo all these years, but it seems that efforts might be in motion to finally help her see this project to fruition. For her sake as well fans who’ve been hoping to see this rather special piece of Star Trek history restored to its former glory, I hope this latest attempt is the real deal.
Related links of interest:
StarTrek.com: The Shuttlecraft Galileo – Part 1
StarTrek.com: The Shuttlecraft Galileo – Part 2
The Drex Files: The Search for the Galileo 7
The Drex Files: Days of Future Past 2