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Aviation history

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Aviation history in the context of museum and history tourism invokes various aspects of science tourism, including both civil and military aviation.


The Wright flyer on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington

The question of "where and when was the first powered flight" is controversial; some say it was made in Kitty Hawk in 1903 by the Wright brothers on their Flyer (a catapult was needed, and witness report is scarce); others give this honor to Brazilian inventor Alberto Santos-Dumont and his 14-bis. On 23 October 1906, he took off under the aircraft's own power before a large crowd of witnesses, at the grounds of Paris' Château de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, for a distance of 60 m (197 ft) at a height of about 5 m (16 ft), the first powered heavier-than-air flight in Europe to be certified by the Aéro Club de France and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI). This controversy is not meant to be a subject of a travel guide, but repays study to science and history aficionados.

However, this wasn't the first time man was flying. Otto Lilienthal experimented with gliders a decade before, and already in 1783 the Montgolfier brothers took off in the world's first hot air balloon. Even though "lighter than air" flight had thus been proved feasible in the 18th century, throughout much of the 19th century many people - including respected scientists like Lord Kelvin - doubted that "heavier than air" aviation would ever become possible. However, the brothers Wright proved the skeptics wrong and by the time World War I began, planes had become a military asset in reconnaissance if not necessarily in the fighting itself. While Zeppelins were an impressive feat of human engineering, their high up front investment cost and their initial technological problems that were only figured out by the time the Hindenburg disaster (owing due to highly flammable hydrogen being used instead of helium which at the time was almost entirely under US control) happened.

Today blimps, airships that unlike Zeppelins get their shape from gas pressure rather than an interior skeleton, are a minor factor in aviation and like balloons are a sideshow in today's aviation picture that is dominated by "heavier than air" to the point that flying is almost universally understood to mean airplanes.

Military tourism[edit]

See also: Military tourism

Aviation played a small role in the Great War but became a major contributor (and strategic component) in World War II. An aerial attack on Pearl Harbor was a key step in the escalation of the Pacific War, while bombing of cities and civilian populations was widespread in World War II in Europe. Cities like Coventry, Guernica, Rotterdam (bombed after the Netherlands had already surrendered) and later Hamburg, Dresden or Berlin were leveled almost entirely by aerial bombardment and bear the scars of this new type of warfare to this day. Timber framed houses and a densely built historical old town used to be hallmarks of most cities in central Europe, but the bombing (and subsequent short-sighted urban planning) ensured that they would become a rarity in major cities.



  • 1 Aviation Heritage Centre (Darwin), +61 8 8947 2145. The Aviation Heritage Centre has an impressive collection of aircraft and displays depicting the Territory’s involvement in aviation from the early pioneers to the jet age. The prize exhibit is a B-52 bomber on permanent loan from the United States Air Force, one of only two on public display outside the US. The centre is 8 km from Darwin city and is on the site of fierce air combat that took place overhead during World War II.


  • 2 Brazilian Aerospace Museum (Museu Aeroespacial), Av. Marechal Fontenelle - Sulacap (Rio de Janeiro/Zona Norte), +55 21 2108-8954. Tu-F 9AM-3PM, weekends 9:30AM-4PM. Originally known as Campo dos Afonsos airfield, the "cradle of Brazilian military aviation" and site of the first aeronautical organization created in Brazil: the Aeroclube do Brasil (Flying club of Brazil), on October 1911. Nowadays, the area is one of the Brazilian Air Force's main airbases, with the adjacent museum, that houses a good collection of planes, engines, etc. including replicas of Santos-Dumont's main machines, the 14-bis and the Demoiselle.
  • 3 Cabangu Museum (Santos-Dumont's birthplace) (16 km from Santos Dumont, Minas Gerais). The house where Alberto Santos-Dumont was born, in his family's coffee farm, is now a museum dedicated to his childhood.
  • 4 Santos Dumont's house (A Encantada), Rua do Encanto, 22 (Petrópolis), +55 24 2247 5222. Tu-Su from 9h to 17h30 (ticket until 17h). Nicknamed "The Enchanted", this chalet in Alpine style was Alberto Santos Dumont's summer residence. Having purchased a seemingly useless hillside lot, he smartly designed the house himself, allegedly to win a bet with his friends, who doubted it could be done; nowadays it's a museum showing his objects, books, letters and furniture, as well as some famous domestic inventions of his: an alcohol-fueled hot shower, and an entrance staircase with paddle-shaped steps, which can only be used starting with the right foot. There's also the Centro Cultural 14a, attached to the house, where you can watch a short film about him. The space has tactile models and accessibility for visitors with special needs. R $ 8.00 (full price) / R $ 4.00 (half price).



  • 6 China Aviation Museum (中国民航博物馆; Zhōngguó Mínháng Bówùguǎn), Datangshan, Chanping District (昌平区小汤山) (Beijing/Northern Suburbs. About 50km outside Beijing, (as of October 2011) take Bus 643 from Tiantongyuan North Subway Station (天通苑北) on Line 5). 8AM-5:30PM. A must see for all aviation fans. It is probably better known by the name Datangshan. The museum hosts over 200 exhibits, many of them very rare. Entrance to the ground exhibits were free (Oct 2011). There is an entrance fee to the indoor display and hanger ¥20, and an extra ¥10 if you want to board Chairman Mao's plane and another ¥10 to board a DC-8 (Orbis), and ¥10 to sit in a MIG-15.



  • 9 Musée de l’air et de l’espace (Le Bourget airport) (11 km from Paris). Le Bourget, along with London's Croydon and Berlin's Tempelhof, was "the trio of Classic European airports" whose design influenced all others that came later. It's famous as the landing site for Charles Lindbergh's historic solo transatlantic crossing in 1927, and as the departure point two weeks earlier for the French biplane The White Bird (L'Oiseau Blanc), which took off in its own attempt at a transatlantic flight but then mysteriously disappeared (the only known remaining piece — the jettisoned main landing gear — is kept here). Nowadays, besides hosting the biannual Paris Air Show, it's France's main state-owned aviation museum. Its highlights include a Concorde prototype, and remnants of the unarmed P-38 flown by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on his last mission, recovered from the Mediterranean Sea.
Monument to Santos-Dumont flight, Bagatelle field, Paris
  • 10 Bagatelle field (Paris/16th arrondissement). Site of Santos-Dumont's first flight. A monument was built to commemorate this achievement.


Dornier Museum at night

Germany was among the forefront of lighter than air flying for the first third of the twentieth century and the name of Count Zeppelin still stands for a rigid, skeleton based airship (as opposed to frameless blimps). Germany also saw aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal conduct more and more audacious experiments until one finally killed him. After Germany lost World War I, the Treaty of Versailles stipulated tight limits on armament, among them the prohibition of an air force. However, even during Weimar times, the government tried to avoid following the rules and the aid to private and civil aviation during the 1920s and 1930s was one way the various governments circumvented those prohibitions, which led both to passenger airlines of high repute (Lufthansa in its first incarnation among them) and an air force (Luftwaffe) in good fighting shape come World War II, which together with new and improved tanks revolutionized warfare, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives. Today the remnants of the companies that pioneered German aviation form the core of Airbus, one of the two largest plane manufacturers in the world and even the Zeppelin company is still around building small semi-rigid airships (basically blimps with a keel) as a side venture.

  • 11 Dornier Museum, Claude-Dornier-Platz 1 (close to the Friedrichshafen airport). May-Oct (summer): daily 09:00-17:00. Nov-Apr (winter): Tue-Sun 10:00-17:00, Mon closed.. Everybody can be a pioneer – this is the central message of the Dornier Museum Friedrichshafen, opened in the summer of 2009, offering a 100 years of aviation and aerospace history as a fascinating experience. The extraordinary architecture accommodates almost 400 exhibits on 5000 m², including 12 original aircraft, 7 exhibits from space travel and a full-size model. €9 adults, €4.50 children, €7 concessions.
  • 12 Zeppelin Museum, Seestraße 22 (Friedrichshafen). Situated in the historic harbour station building, this museum presents the world‘s largest collection on the subject of airship history, construction and travel. Under the same roof you can visit an important collection of art dating from the late Middle Ages to the present day. The main attraction is the 33 m long reconstruction of part of the LZ 129 Hindenburg in its original size, which visitors can board just as the original passengers did in the 30‘s. The authentically fitted passenger rooms give an impression of how people travelled during the period of the “silver giants”. Two entire storeys of the Zeppelin Museum are dedicated to different aspects of Zeppelin history and technology. In addition to the permanent exhibition the museum organizes special events and temporary exhibitions. The Zeppelin company also offers tours with a modern airship produced by Zeppelin albeit not a Zeppelin in the technological sense (i.e. the structure is not held up by an interior skeleton although it does have a keel) starting at 200€ a pop. €8 adults, €4 concessions. Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen on Wikipedia Zeppelin Museum Friedrichshafen (Q191427) on Wikidata
  • 13 Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr (German Air Force Museum; RAF Gatow), Flugplatz Gatow 33 (Berlin/North; from S+U Rathaus Spandau, take Bus 135). At a former Luftwaffe and Royal Air Force (RAF) airfield, RAF Gatow, which served as West Berlin's third airport until 1994. The museum's focus is on military history, particularly the history of the Luftwaffe of the Bundeswehr, with a collection of more than 200,000 items, including 155 aeroplanes, 5,000 uniforms and 30,000 books. There are also displays (including aeroplanes) on the history of the airfield when it was used by the RAF. Aircraft include reproductions of Otto Lilienthal's gliders, of World War I planes such as the Fokker E.III triplane, and World War II planes such as the Bf 109 and Me-262, as well as at least one aircraft of every type ever to serve in the air forces of East and West Germany. Most of those postwar aircraft are stored outside on the tarmac and runways, however, and many are in bad condition. There are long term restoration projects, including a Focke-Wulf Fw 190.
  • 14 Auto & Technik Museum (close to Sinsheim; signposted from exits 33 or 34 on the A6 Autobahn.). open daily. Has interesting displays of many vintage and historic cars, motorcycles, other machinery, and an extensive collection of aircraft, including a Russian Tupolev 144 and Anglo-French Concorde. Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim on Wikipedia Sinsheim Auto & Technik Museum (Q374459) on Wikidata
  • 15 Otto Lilienthal Museum, Ellbogenstraße 1 (Anklam, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania), +49-3971-245500, e-mail: . Daily 10 am to 5 pm. Set up on Lilienthal’s birthplace, founded in 1927. On exhibition are various objects belonging to the life and work of Otto Lilienthal, essays, documents, including a photo archive, replicas and models of all known gliders and aircraft of Lilienthal, and a large collection of hang gliders and models of aircraft. Moreover, it shows the history of brothers Otto and Gustav Lilienthal, very prolific inventors of steam engines, toys, as well as initiators of numerous social and cultural projects. Otto Lilienthal Museum on Wikipedia Otto Lilienthal Museum (Q881418) on Wikidata
  • 16 Tempelhof Airport, Berlin/South (Take U6 to "Platz der Luftbrücke", "Paradestraße" or "Tempelhof" to enter the park.). Sunrise to sunset. The "mother of all airports", according to Sir Norman Foster, is a huge relic of the pre-war era. First flights on what was then a parade ground were already undertaken in the first decade of the 20th century, before it became a full-on airport in the 1920s with such dignitaries as president Friedrich Ebert among the first passengers. Tempelhof was one of the first airports to feature a major terminal building (at the time the biggest building in the world before being surpassed by the Pentagon), the first to be linked to the urban rail network of its city (the Berlin U-Bahn) and was a major hotspot of the cold war, including a LOT flight intended for (East-)Berlin-Schönefeld being hijacked and abducted there to escape from the East to the West. The iconic terminal building (built during the Nazi era) was the hot spot of the Berlin airlift ("Berliner Luftbrücke") in 1948-49. In 1951 a monument was added to its entrance square - then renamed "Airlift Square" - to commemorate the airlifts over the Berlin Blockade. The airport was featured in movies like Billy Wilder's One Two Three. Tempelhof closed as an airport on October 30, 2008. Nowadays, the airfield is a spacious park with many visitors in summer and fall. The terminal building is still fascinating - the halls and neighbouring buildings, intended to become the gateway to Europe, are still known among the largest built entities worldwide. The terminal building is used as a venue of fashion weeks or fairs. Tempelhof has been subject to a lot of local politics in recent years. First a ballot measure to keep it as an airport failed and a few years later a ballot measure to keep new construction on its outskirts from happening was successful, thus preserving the urban open space at the cost of an exacerbated housing shortage. The park is free; guided tour in the building €15. Berlin Tempelhof Airport on Wikipedia Berlin Tempelhof Airport (Q9686) on Wikidata


  • 17 Indian Air Force Museum (adjacent to the Palam Air Force Station in Delhi). The display gallery contains historic photographs, memorabilia, uniforms and personal weapons of the Indian Air Force, from its inception in 1932. This gallery leads to a hangar exhibiting small aircraft and Air Force assets like anti-aircraft guns, vehicles and ordnance. Larger aircraft are exhibited outside the hangar, along with several war trophies, radar equipment and captured enemy vehicles.
  • 18 Naval Aviation Museum (Vasco da Gama, adjacent to the Dabolim airport). 10:00am – 5:00pm, closed on Mondays. This museum contains exhibits that showcase the evolution of the Indian Naval Air Arm over decades. It's divided into two main parts, an outdoor exhibit and a two-storeyed indoor gallery. This is a great place to see vintage aircraft like the Sealands, Doves, Alizes, Seahawks, Vampires, a Super Constellation and Hughes helicopters, along with the relatively newer Sea Harriers. It claims to be the only one of its kind in Asia. Admission is free.


A seaplane at the Italian Air Force museum
  • 19 Italian Air Force Museum (Museo Storico Aeronautica Militare), Vigna Di Valle (on the southernmost point of Lake Bracciano, between Bracciano and Anguillara), +39 0699887509, e-mail: . 09.30-16.30 in winter and 09.30-17.30 in summer. Closed on Mondays. A superb collection of planes housed in the hangars of Italy's first seaplane base. Exhibits range from the pioneers of flight and WWI fighters up to Italian military planes of the present day. This is one of the largest collections of its type in the world, really well displayed. Free of charge.
  • 20 Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology (Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia), S.Vittore Street (Milan/West, reachable by bus or subway, line MM2 Sant'Ambrogio Station). Hosted in a former monastery, San Vittore al Corpo. The Air Transport section exhibits several airplanes, including a Farman 1909 replica and an original Macchi MC 205 V used during WWII. There are also modern military aircraft, like an Italian Fiat G.91, a North American F-86K and a Republic F-84F Thunderstreak.
  • 21 Gianni Caproni Aeronautical Museum (Museo dell’Aeronautica Gianni Caproni), Via Lidorno, 3 (Trento, adjacent to the airport), +39 461-944 888. Italy's oldest aviation museum, as well as the country's oldest corporate museum, established in 1927. Just outside the museum and airport, a Lockheed F-104G Starfighter is pointed to the sky, and stands as a gate guardian.


  • 22 [dead link]Museum of Aeronautical Science (航空科学博物館 kōkū kagaku hakubutsukan) (Narita, about 15min by bus from Narita Airport (JR/Keisei Station).), +81 479 78-0557. Open 10AM-5PM. Closed on Mondays, year end and new years holidays.. The Museum of Aeronautical Science displays relevant artifacts to the aviation history of Japan, including aircraft. Also of note is the observation deck on the fifth floor, with views over Narita Airport. From here you can watch aircraft landing and departing, log numbers, and take photographs.
  • 23 [dead link]Tokorozawa Aviation Museum (所沢航空発祥記念館), 1-13 Namiki (Tokorozawa), +81 4-2996-2225, fax: +81 4-2996-2531. 9:30-17:00. Japan's first airfield, which started operations in 1911 with a flight by Yoshitoshi Tokugawa. The original single runway is still visible and has been incorporated into the larger multifunction Tokorozawa Aviation Memorial Park, adjacent to the museum. It contains aircraft and other displays (many of which interactive), and an IMAX theatre.


New Zealand[edit]

  • 25 Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, 79 Aerodrome Rd, Blenheim (New Zealand) (beside Omaka Aerodrome (not Blenheim Airport) 5 km from town, route sign-posted off SH6), +64 3 579 1305, e-mail: . Daily 10AM-5PM (last entry 4PM) except 25–26 Dec. Collection of World War I planes lovingly restored and captured in realistic settings. Part of the attraction is the association of Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings fame) and Weta Workshop with the display. His team has turned what could be just a collection of planes into a drama enjoyed by even those with little interest in aviation or military history. Worth it. Has a cafe. Adult $25, child (5–14) $10, concessions available.


  • 26 Polish Aviation Museum (Muzeum Lotnictwa), al. Jana Pawła II 39 (Czyżyny district, Kraków/East), +48 12 640 99 60. 9:00 - 17:00, Mondays closed. A museum consisting of a new pavilion (good contemporary architecture) and few hangars filled with over two hundred historic gliders, aircraft, helicopters and more. Among them is a collection of 22 extremely rare antique planes that once belonged to Hermann Göring. The museum stands on the grounds of the Rakowice-Czyżyny airfield, one of the oldest military airfields in Europe. Tuesdays free.


The "Sukhoi Alley" at the Central Air Force Museum
  • 27 Museum of the Great Patriotic War (Центральный музей Великой Отечественной войны), Ploschad Pobedy (Площадь Победы), 3 (Moscow/Outskirts, M: Park Pobedy). Tu-Su 10.00-19.00, Th 10.00-20.00. Impressive museum, features an external section with displays of vintage Soviet aircraft flown in World War II. - Adults RUB200, Seniors, students RUB100.
  • 28 Memorial Museum of Astronautics (Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics or Memorial Museum of Space Exploration,), Prospekt Mira (просп. Мира), 111 (Moscow/Outskirts, M:VDNkH (ВДНХ) or Monorail), +7 (495) 683-7968, e-mail: . Tu-Su 11.00-19.00. A museum in Moscow, dedicated to space exploration.- The museum contains a wide variety of space-related exhibits and models which explore the history of flight; astronomy; space exploration; space technology; and space in the arts. The museum's collection holds approximately 85,000 different items.
  • 29 Central Air Force Museum (Центральный музей Военно-воздушных сил РФ) (Monino, East Moscow Oblast, about 40 km east of Moscow. Take a local train from the Yaroslavl Station in Moscow.). We-Fr 9.30-13.30, 14.15-17, Sa-Su 9-14. 173 Russian and Soviet military planes and 127 engines, including rarities and prototypes, are on display in the Central Air Force museum. In addition you can see uniforms, weapons and other air force equipment. Descriptions of exhibits are for the most part in Russian only, with some English translations available. The museum is located on a military base, so there's identity check on entry (foreigners no longer need a special permit). Check if the museum is open before visiting, it was planned to close for an unspecified time in the summer 2016 but it has still received reviews in September 2016.


  • 30 Ukranian State Aviation Museum (Державний музей авіації України (Жуляни)), Medovaya str., 1 (Kiev, inside the old Zhulyany Airport), +380 44 241-2583, +380 44 461-6485, +380 44 451-8314, e-mail: . Many impressive Soviet civil and military aircraft on display, including an An-2, Tu-104, Il-62, Il-76, an Il-86 and constantly improving. The museum is opposite to the airport terminal, which is an industrial zone. To get there, you can either take Trolleybus #9 from the main train station - Kiev Passazhyrskyi (South exit)/Vokzalna metro stop or #22 from Shuliavska (Шулявська) metro station, both until Sevastopolska Square. From there, take the minibus 220 that will take you straight to the museum (last stop). Walking in the surrounding area after dark is not advisable as the area is poorly lit and stray dogs are present. 50 UAH.

United States[edit]

  • 31 Wright Brothers National Memorial, 1000 North Croatan Highway (Kitty Hawk, North Carolina), +1-252-441-7430. 9 am–5 pm daily 7 days/week (closed on Dec 25). Celebrates and explains the first successful controlled, sustained, powered, heavier-than-air flights, which the Wright brothers performed here in 1903. The visitors center has a model of the original aircraft, and interpretive talks. Outside, stone markers show the start and ending points of the first four flights. The adjacent First Flight Airport (KFFA) offers a 3000' runway for day use, with tie-downs but no fuel or other services. Compared to the time of the first flight, Kill Devil Hill has shifted south a short distance due to wind, and is planted with grass to keep it in place. It is topped by an art deco monument to the Wright brothers, and Orville attended its dedication. Follow US Highway 158 to mile 7.5, turn west into Memorial $7/adult, children 15 years or younger free, free with passes.
  • 32 National Air and Space Museum (Washington, D.C./National Mall), +1 202 633-1000. 10AM-5:30PM daily, except December 25. The most-visited museum in the U.S., with over 8 million visitors per year, this impressive repository covers the history of human flight, rocketry and space flight. It contains thousands of impressive artifacts, including the Wright brothers' 1903 Flyer, Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, Apollo 11's command module Columbia, and the simulated bridge of an aircraft carrier. Free Admission. National Air and Space Museum on Wikipedia National Air and Space Museum (Q752669) on Wikidata
  • 33 Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center - National Air and Space Museum (Dulles Air and Space Museum), 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway (Chantilly, Virginia, near Dulles International Airport), +1 202 357-2200. This branch of the Smithsonian museum opened in 2003 to house many illustrious air/spacecraft that would not fit into the 1976 museum in the Mall. The Udvar-Hazy collection includes the SR-71 "Blackbird" spy plane, the Concorde supersonic jet, the B-29 Enola Gay of Hiroshima fame, the Super Constellation, and the space shuttle Discovery. In addition, the museum contain an observation tower and an IMAX theater. The museum is free; there is a charge for the IMAX. Parking is available for $15/vehicle..
  • 34 National Museum of Naval Aviation, 1750 Radford Blvd (Pensacola, Florida), +1 850 452-3604. 9AM-5PM. The Naval Aviation Museum is the most popular tourist destination in Pensacola, and it offers a comprehensive look at the history of flight in the Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. The 150 beautifully restored aircraft are the biggest draw here; make sure to check out the Blue Angels jets hanging in the atrium, and the only C-130 Hercules to have ever landed on an aircraft carrier. Kids will enjoy the flight simulator, and the IMAX theater shows a visually stunning documentary, the History of Flight. Practice demonstrations by the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, may be viewed from the museum most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings between March and November. These practices are weather permitting, and a tentative practice schedule may be viewed on the Blue Angels’ website. Free, but donations welcome. $8 for IMAX tickets..
  • 35 National Museum of the U. S. Air Force, 1100 Spaatz St (Dayton, Ohio), +1 937 258-1218, fax: +1 937 258-3816. 9AM-5PM daily, Closed fourth Th of Nov, 25 Dec, and 1 Jan. The world's largest military aviation museum with over 300 aircraft on display from the earliest days of aviation to modern prototypes. It is well maintained and interesting even for non aviation buffs. Highlights include the B-2 (stealth) bomber and Mercury space capsule. Free.
AMARC, aka the 'Boneyard', with the Santa Catalina Mountains in the background.
  • 36 Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, Route 235 and Pegg Road (Lexington Park, Maryland; Take MD-4 south, then turn right on MD-235). Patuxent River Naval Air Station is the Navy's primary aircraft test facility. Virtually every aircraft flown by the Navy since World War II has been tested at Pax River. The base is, of course, not open to the public, but you can visit the Naval Air Museum without coming onto the main base. It includes a large collection of jet-age Navy aircraft, including the F-4J Phantom II, the F-14A Tomcat, F/A-18A Hornet, S-3B Viking, E-2B Hawkeye, AV-8B Harrier II, and the two experimental aircraft that competed for the Joint Strike Fighter contract, the Boeing X-35C and the Lockheed-Martin X-32B. Visitors can walk up and touch the aircraft. Museum exhibits also include flight motion simulators. Free; donation requested.
  • 37 Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E Valencia Rd (Tucson, Arizona), +1 520-574-0462. Daily 9AM-5PM (last admission at 4PM); closed Thanksgiving and Christmas. Features over 300 historic aircraft on an 80-acre site with five hangars, two of them devoted to World War II. Veterans and volunteers are often on hand to answer any questions, and there are daily walking tours of the grounds. There is an onsite restaurant. $15.50 (adults), $12.25 (Pima County residents), $12.75 (seniors/military), $9 (children 5-12), free (children under 5). Pima Air & Space Museum on Wikipedia Pima Air & Space Museum (Q3062422) on Wikidata
    • Tram Tour, +1 520-574-0462. As the grounds are so large, a tour tram is offered for those who do not wish to walk. The guided tour lasts one hour and covers 1½ miles and more than 150 planes. Departure times vary, so it is best to call ahead or inquire at the entrance. Price is in addition to museum admission: $6 (adults), free (children under 6).
    • Aerospace Maintenance and Regentation Center (AMARC / Boneyard), +1 520-574-0462. M-F; times vary so best to call ahead. A separate, very interesting tour can be booked to see the Aerospace Maintenance and Regentation Center, located nearby on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where 4200+ aircraft are stored. As the facility is an active military base, an ID is required (all nationalities welcome). Visitors are not permitted to leave the bus, and non-essential backpacks/camera bags are not permitted (storage is available at the museum). These tours are very popular and cannot be reserved ahead; tickets are sold only on the day of the tour on a first-come basis, so it is best to arrive early. $7 (adults), $4 (children under 13). 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group on Wikipedia 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (Q224095) on Wikidata
  • 38 Edwards Air Force Base, 1 S. Rosamond Blvd (Mojave, California; take the 14 south to Rosamond, then take Rosamond Blvd. east out of town and follow it directly to the base), +1 661 277-3510. Edwards AFB is very famous as THE American military flight test center, home to Chuck Yeager and co. in the fifties and sixties, the scenario to nearly all the action seen in famous movie The Right Stuff: a massive testing and training ground for the USAF and NASA. The Air Force Flight Test Museum is inside the base, and tours are available. See the website for details. Note that this is an active military base so ID will be required and visitors may be required to submit to a search. Edwards AFB is best known for being similar to Area 51, but usually most of the time, test and experimental aircraft, like a Boeing B-52, will come out of the hangar to experiment. This Air force base was built in 1933 and opened for use in 1948, for the USAF and NACA. In 1958, NACA has been changed to NASA, making Edwards a NASA base. The site of the first Space Shuttle landing, it became a back-up site to the prime landing location, the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Edwards Air Force Base on Wikipedia Edwards Air Force Base (Q217563) on Wikidata
    • 39 NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center (Dryden Flight Research Center). Known as the Dryden Flight Research Center until the name was changed in 2014, this center has played an important role in the history of flight. Before NASA, NACA ("National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics") operated and tested the transsonic Douglas Skyrocket. The center also conducted the Controlled Impact Demonstration in 1984, a test in which a Boeing 720 aircraft was remotely piloted and intentionally crashed in order to study fuel additives meant to reduce fires in the case of a crash. Other experiments have included "aerospike" engines and supersonic rockets. Five lunar landing research vehicles were tested at the base, one of which is available for viewing. Armstrong Flight Research Center on Wikipedia Armstrong Flight Research Center (Q305443) on Wikidata
    • 40 Aircraft on display. There are a lot of iconic aircraft, such as Balls 8, NASA's venerable B-52, famous as the X-planes' mothership, on display at the base's North and West gates. Take a lot of pictures of these planes when you are driving or walking in Edwards AFB.
    • 41 Rogers Dry Lake. Dry most of the year, the hard surface of the lakebed provides an extension for runways at Edwards, and is home to approximately 16 runways. Many notable aeronautic achievements have taken place here.
  • 42 Blackbird Air Park, 2503 E. Avenue P (Palmdale, California; Take Highway 14 or Sierra Highway to Avenue P, turn east, drive to 25th Street East.), +1 661 274-0884. F-Su (except in inclement weather) from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM Pacific Time. On Federal Government holidays both airparks are closed. The Blackbird Airpark Museum is an extension of the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB, right next door to the Joe Davies Heritage Airpark (formerly Palmdale Plant 42 Heritage Airpark). Both are manned by retirees who had previously worked in the aerospace industry, some actually having worked on the aircraft displayed at the two parks. All of the aircraft have been carefully restored for public display. View and walk around retired SR-71A (Blackbird), A-12 and U-2 aircraft. Both are free to the public.
  • 43 Museum of Flight, 9404 E Marginal Way S (next to the Boeing 737 factory, King County International Airport, Renton, Washington), +1 206 764-5720. Daily 10AM to 5PM except 1st Thursday of month 10AM to 9PM. Consists of an indoor area that is further divided into the history, jet age, airport operations, and space travel, and an outdoor section where you can sneak inside retired airplanes. The collection includes 131 aircraft and spacecraft ranging from wood and fabric crates to the SR-71, Space Shuttle Trainer, a retired Air-Force One and a Concorde. Tours to the vicinity of the airport inside a van are available, but most spots do not allow cameras for security purposes. The Museum offers a large educational outreach program including weekend family workshops, the Aerospace Camp Experience (ACE) summer day camp, and an aviation high school. $20 adults, $12 youth (5-17), children (4 and under) free, $17 active military and seniors (65+). Lower fares available for groups of more than 10 people. Free on first Thursday of the month from 5PM until 9PM. Museum of Flight on Wikipedia Museum of Flight (Q1402597) on Wikidata
  • 44 Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour, 8415 Paine Field Blvd., Mukilteo, Washington (from Everett, take I-5 Exit 189, WA Hwy 526 west 4 miles (6.4km), past the huge Boeing building on your right, then at the 4-way stoplight turn Left onto Paine Field Blvd and follow signs for the museum), +1 425-438-8100, toll-free: +1-888-467-4777, fax: +1 425-265-9808, e-mail: . 8:30AM-5:30PM daily, except for a few holidays; tours start 9AM-3PM. Boeing's Everett factory is the world's largest building by interior volume. It is where the Boeing 747, 767, 777, and 787 airliners are made, making it interesting for the aviation nut, and tolerable for the rest of the family. The factory is viewed from an observation floor, leaving you a few hundred yards/meters from any aircraft, and the tour can be rather bland and commercial. No cameras or electronics allowed on the tour, not even your cell phone! Tours start from the Future of Flight Aviation Center, which has a gallery and theatre presentations which are fairly interesting, but don't take very long to view. On the observation deck of the museum, you can watch planes land and take off from the runway, with air traffic control audible on speakers; aircraft are often being tested before delivery to Boeing's customers. At Paine Field, there are the Boeing tour and these adjacent independent museums. However, if you only have time for one aviation museum on your trip, you might consider skipping this in favor of the Museum of Flight in Renton, which is much larger and engaging than the Boeing tour. $15 for museum and tour ($8 for 15 years and under); $9 for museum only. Reservations recommended for tours. Must be 4 feet (122 cm) or taller. Lockers $1 (for storing items not allowed on the tour).
  • 45 Historic Flight Foundation (John T. Sessions Historic Aircraft Foundation), 10719 Bernie Webber Dr (Paine Field, Mukilteo, Washington), +1 425 348-3200, e-mail: . Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. A collection of the most important aircraft produced between 1927 and 1957 (e.g. P-51 Mustang, B-25 Mitchell, Spitfire mk. IX)—all restored and airborne again. $15, $12 senior/military, $10 youth (11-17), kids 10 and under free.
  • 46 Flying Heritage Collection, 3407 109th Street SW (Paine Field, Everett, Washington), toll-free: +1-877-FHC-3404 (342-3404). 10AM-5PM; daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Tu-Su the rest of the year. Microsoft founder Paul G. Allen's collection of rare military aircraft of the 20th century, which comprises artifacts from Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The Collection opened to the public in 2004. $14, $12 seniors/military, $10 youth (6-17), kids 5 and under free.
  • The Museum of Flight Restoration Center, 2909 100th St. SW (Paine Field, Everett, Washington). 9AM-4PM; Tu-Sa June–August, Tu-Th and Sa the rest of the year. $5, $3 youth (5-17), kids 4 and under free.
  • 47 Museum of Flying, 3100 Airport Ave (at Santa Monica Airport (KSMO), Southern California), +1 310-398-2500. Fri-Sun 10AM-5PM. Centered around artifacts from the Douglas Aircraft Company, which used to manufacture iconic aircraft like the DC-3 at the Santa Monica Airport. It includes many aircraft in static display, from a replica Wright Flyer to WWII fighters to the microjet which appeared in the James Bond film Octopussy. "Rides" in a full-motion flight simulator are $8 each. $10 Adults. Museum of Flying on Wikipedia Museum of Flying (Q6940862) on Wikidata
  • 48 Planes of Fame Air Museum, 7000 Merrill Ave. #17 (Chino Airport, Southern California), +1 909 597-3722. Su-Fr 10AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-5PM; Closed Thanksgiving & Christmas Day. This museum covers the history of flight, from an 1896 Chanute hang glider through the Space Age. Of special note is the largest collection of Japanese aircraft, including the only original Zero fighter still flying (it appears in the famous Tora! Tora! Tora! movie). Many of the aircraft are the only remaining examples of their kind. 12 and up: $11; 5-11: $4; under 5: Free; Seniors (65+) and Veterans: $10; Active duty military, police, and firefighters: Free.
  • 49 Yanks Air Museum, 7000 Merrill Avenue #35-A270 (Chino Airport, Southern California), +1 909 597-1735. M-Sa 8AM-4PM. This museum owns 160 aircraft, including the largest private collection of WWII American fighters and dive bombers in the world. 12 and up: $11; 5-11: $5; under 5: Free; Seniors (65+): $10.

Museum Aircraft Carriers[edit]

The USS Yorktown at Patriot's Point.
  • 50 USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, 910 N. Harbor Dr (San Diego/Downtown, California), +1 619 544-9600. Daily 10AM-5PM. Take a self-guided tour of the USS Midway (CV-41), a former aircraft carrier of the US Navy. The Midway is home to a collection of former naval aircraft housed on her expansive flight deck. Guided tours and displays offer a unique look into the life aboard and of a powerful old warhorse. $20 adults, $17 seniors, $15 students, $10 retired military/youth, children under 5 and active military free (discount if purchased online). USS Midway Museum on Wikipedia USS Midway Museum (Q3329805) on Wikidata
  • 51 USS Hornet, Pier 3, Alameda Point (Alameda, California), +1 510 521-8448. The USS Hornet (CV-12) is a retired World War II aircraft carrier that fought numerous battles in the Pacific and also retrieved the astronauts of Apollo 11 and Apollo 12 after splashdown. The ship is currently run as a museum, with the hangar deck, flight deck, and some other areas open to wander around in, and tours offering the chance to see control rooms, engineering facilities, and other areas of this retired warship.Allow a minimum of three hours; ideally five or more. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for students.
  • 52 USS Yorktown (Patriot's Point) (Mount Pleasant, South Carolina; U.S. 17 N from Charleston, right onto Coleman Blvd. Right at first light.), toll-free: +1-866-831-1720. 9-6:30. Tour the USS Yorktown (CV-10), a decommissioned WWII aircraft carrier that served as recovery ship for the Apollo 8 space mission, and was used in the movies Tora! Tora! Tora! and The Philadelphia Experiment. There are other ships and submarines at the park. $18 adults, $15 seniors/military, $11 children, free for military in uniform. $5 parking.
  • 53 USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, 2914 N. Shoreline (Corpus Christi, Texas), toll-free: +1-800-523-9539, fax: +1 361 883-8361, e-mail: . 9AM-5PM Winter, 9AM-6PM Summer, daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas. The very oldest remaining WWII aircraft carrier, commissioned in 1943, the USS Lexington (CV-16) is the recipient of 11 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation, now a museum. See naval life, the ship, and aircraft complement. Adults $13.95, Children $6.95, Parking $3.
Aerial view of the Intrepid
  • 54 Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86, 12th Ave & 46th St (Manhattan/Theater_District), +1 212 245-0072. Apr-Sep M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa-Su 10AM-6PM; Oct-Mar Tu-Su 10AM-5PM. The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CV-11) is docked here and loaded with spacecraft and aircraft, including the very cool Blackbird spy plane and the prototype Space Shuttle Enterprise. On the other side of the dock is a guided-missile submarine and a Concorde, both of which you can tour also, and some tanks. $16.50 adult. Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Wikipedia Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (Q952270) on Wikidata

United Kingdom[edit]

  • 55 Royal Air Force Museum London (former RAF Hendon airfield), Grahame Park Way, London NW9 5LL, +44 20 8205-2266. A nationally important collection of military aircraft, including a few that served with the RAF's foes. Free ( but parking charges apply).
  • 56 Imperial War Museum Duxford (RAF Duxford) (near Cambridge). This WWII airfield, the main filming location for the famous Battle of Britain movie with Michael Caine, nowadays houses the Imperial War Museum's aircraft collection, and is the largest aviation museum in Europe, featuring a fleet of lovingly mantained Spitfires and Tiger Moths that fly almost daily. As well as military aircraft, it houses a large collection of non-military aircraft including a Concorde. There is also a land warfare museum attached that has many examples of armoured vehicles from the First World War onwards. It really a full day for a proper visit. Bus Citi 7 takes about an hour to get there from the city centre or the bus station. Make sure that you board the Citi 7 bus that says Duxford as the Citi 7 bus also goes to two other places. Also note the time of the last bus to leave the museum as later buses go to the village of Duxford but not out to the museum. Flight shows are sometimes held; these days will be very busy. Imperial War Museum Duxford on Wikipedia

Scale-model collections[edit]

Ever since there has been aviation, there have been skilled model-makers creating scale representations. It has also been claimed that 'model' flying machines, were airborne decades before their full size equivalents. Whilst a number of the museums mentioned above may have aviation models on show, those noted in this section are specifically scale model collections.



  • 1 Farnborough International Airshow: 16–22 July 2018 Farnborough. The Airshow is held in Farnborough Airport for one week every two years. Public days are the last weekend only (Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 July), although there are many locations around town to watch the displays all week. Local pub beer gardens, such as The Swan and The Prince Alexander are good places to try. On-site, exhibits cover civilian & military aircraft both static and as an aerial display. The show's stunning highlight is the RAF display team the "Red Arrows". You can also visit town during the so-called "practice week", which normally lasts a week to ten days before the show officially opens, although flying display times are unpredictable and often repetitive.
  • 1 EAA AirVenture (Oshkosh airshow) (Oshkosh, Wisconsin). last Monday in July through Sunday. One of the world's great aviation gatherings. A week-long aviation event offering seminars, product demonstrations, aircraft tours and daily airshows. One of the largest airshows in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people drive in, tens of thousands of aircraft fly in. A tent city sprouts under the wings of parked aircraft and beyond. Be on the alert for closed roads all around Wittman airport and Highway 41 during the festival. Hotels can be filled for tens of miles around, but local universities open their dorm rooms, and private homes their spare bedrooms, to the visitor. See the AirVenture and Chamber of Commerce websites for leads on housing. If you plan to fly in to Wittman airport during AirVenture, you must absolutely get the AirVenture NOTAM and follow it carefully.
  • 2 Paris Air Show, Le Bourget Airport. from 19 to 25 June 2017. The world's calendar-oldest air show. It'ss currently held every odd year. The Paris event starts with four professional days closed to the general public, and then Friday, Saturday and Sunday the public, including children, are allowed in.
  • 3 ILA Berlin Air Show, Berlin ExpoCenter Airport, Messestrasse 1, 12529 Schönefeld (18 km southeast of Berlin). The Berlin Air Show demonstrates the capabilities and achievements of all areas of the global aerospace industry. The last one was held between 1 and 4 June 2016.
  • 4 Dayton Air Show, Dayton International Airport in Vandalia, Ohio (8 miles north of Dayton, Ohio). This annual Air Show takes place on a weekend in mid-July each year, but as of 2013, late June. The history of this flight exhibition dates back to 1910 and the Wright Company (Orville and Wilbur were both born at Dayton). The next one will be held on 24 and 25 June 2017. Frequent guests include the Blue Angels, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, U.S. Army Golden Knights, the F-18 Super Hornet, B-2 Spirit, B-52 Stratofortress, A-10 Thunderbolt, P-51 Mustang, C-5 Galaxy, and more.
  • 5 MAKS (Moscow Air Show), Ramenskoye Airport (40 km southeast of central Moscow). International Air Show held near Moscow. The first show, Mosaeroshow-92, was held in 1992. Since 1993, it was renamed to its current name and is held on odd years. Next one will be held on 15 to 20 August 2017.


  • 1 Jumbostay (Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm, Sweden). Jumbovägen 4 near Arlanda Airport, is a bit of a novelty and conveniently located near the airport. A decommissioned Boeing 747 Jumbo jet converted into a backpackers' hostel. Everything inside is new and clean, and linen comes included on made beds. Flat screen TV's in each room are a luxury for hostels, and if you really want to splash out, there is the cockpit suite. On the downside, not much of an atmosphere once you get over the novelty of staying in a jet.

See also[edit]

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