The 5 Best Aviation Museums You Should Visit
More than a hundred years after the Wright Brothers made their iconic first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, we are still fascinated with the concept of aviation. Those two original brothers could not have conceived the impact their actions would have on an international scale–encompassing all aspects of society and forever changing the lives of billions of people in one form or another.
Barely a few decades after the original feat of conquering flight occurred, the airplane–as well as the men and women building and operating them–had evolved so dramatically in such a short period of time that it created what was, and is quite possibly still the largest explosion of technological advancement in recorded times. This means that although modern aviation cannot trace its roots back thousands of years like some other industries can, the incredibly quick progress in which the industry made–and continues to make–has left behind a rich and vibrant recorded history.
Thankfully these historical records have been preserved for the education and enjoyment of the public in aviation museums all over the country. Whether you are a student, have an interest in aviation, an industry professional, or even just an inquisitive person, taking a trip to an aviation museum is sure to be a rewarding, interesting, and educational experience.
The following is a list of some of the best and most significant aviation museums located across the United States that are sure to please any visitor:
- The Military Aviation Museum: The Military Aviation Museum takes the idea of a museum to a whole new level–offering a plethora of events, activities, exhibits, and unique once in a lifetime opportunities. The impressive range of restored and fully functional aircraft–encompassing planes from every area of aviation history–are on display seven days a week. The Military Aviation Museum is also a great place to view one of a kind air shows, and even provides opportunities for personal rides. Their facilities are housed in beautiful Virginia Beach, Virginia, and for a maximum entry fee of $12 you can enjoy a day you will never forget.
- The San Diego Air and Space Museum: Housing such historically significant exhibitions as the Command Module from the Apollo 9 mission and the infamous P-51 Mustang, the San Diego Air and Space Museum spans the entire time frame from World War One all the way to space age technology. Located on Pan American Plaza, the museum resides on the grounds of Balboa Park. You will be exposed to such unique exhibits as a model of the original hot air balloon first launched in 1783.
- The United States Army Aviation Museum: Fort Rucker–near Ozark, Alabama–is a must see attraction for any aviation or history buff. The museum, in the process of expanding, boasts the biggest collection of helicopters in the entire world. Much of their collection is comprised of restored military aircraft, although this is not all the museum has to offer. The Army Aviation Hall of Fame is located here, as well as a Memorial to the pilots who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.
- The Pima Air and Space Museum: One of the biggest aviation museums in the United States, Pima is the largest non government funded aviation museum in the entire world. Featuring near 300 different types of aircraft spread out over a very impressive 127 acres of land. Located in Tucson, Arizona, the museum houses an SR-71 Blackbird–in addition to the largest aircraft storage and restoration facility in the entire world.
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum: A must for virtually anyone, the Smithsonian holds one of the most impressive collections of aircraft in the world. The home of Charles Lindberg’s Spirit of St. Louis, the original Flyer used by the Wright brothers, and even the Space Shuttle Discovery. Their collection includes a total of 51 space craft, as well as 61 original aircraft. Opened in 1946, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is conveniently located adjacent to Dulles Air Force Base.
Taking a trip to one or more aviation museums can be a great experience for people of all ages. In addition to the invaluable real life, hands on experiences afforded to visitors with aircraft of all sorts, you may also find a passion in the always evolving aviation industry.
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