Humans have dreamt of flying long before the Wright Brothers took their first flight and they continue to dream of flying over a hundred years later.
The Museum of Flight in Seattle helps to kick the tires and light the fires of both children and adults. The museum has over 150 aircraft and 25,000 small objects, many of which are displayed in the museums 40-plus exhibits.
A few feet after walking into the museum, you find yourself standing under a full-size model of DaVinci’s renaissance airplane and a reproduction of the Fokker D.VII famously flown by the Red Baron. Past the entry corridor is the T.A. Wilson Great Gallery, an expansive 3-million-cubic-foot exhibit hall, filled floor-to-ceiling with 39 full-size aircraft like the SR-71, multiple fighter aircraft and a Vietnam-era Huey Helicopter. These are, quite literally, some of the most famous aircraft in the world and they are all within feet of each other. The great hall also has several flight simulators, including a few that have the same range of motion that a fighter aircraft would have.
In the covered Aviation Pavilion across the Street are another nineteen full-size aircraft. Here, you will have an opportunity to tour a 747 that has carried passengers around the world since 1969, but act fast because it is currently being replaced by another newer Seattle-built aircraft—the 787 Dreamliner. Personally, my favorites to walk through are Lyndon B. Johnson’s Air Force One and the Concorde, which is the only one on the West Coast.
The Museum of Flight has something for everyone, including the little ones. There are two play areas where children can crawl inside airplanes, mock Apollo capsules and even a Kidport. The Kidport is a mini airport complete with ticket counters, a baggage drop off, a mini Alaska Airlines passenger plane and even an airport security checkpoint–but not a single TSA agent to ruin the fun.
For the space enthusiasts, there are plenty of opportunities to engage with history. You can take a guided tour of the cockpit of an actual mock-up space shuttle that was used to train astronauts, watch a 3D movie like “Touch the Stars” on NASA’s robotic space exploration, and even travel to the moon and back with the crew of Apollo 11 with Spacequest VR, a virtual reality experience that uses a three-axis pneumatic platform to give realtime jostles and shakes.
Some of the experiences, like Spacequest VR have additional costs, but you can save on the admission fee by going on the first Thursday of every month when admission is free.
If you’re feeling a bit more daring, visit on a weekend and take an actual open-cockpit biplane flight just steps away from the main entrance with the pilots from Olde Thyme Aviation. If a scenic biplane flight just isn’t enough to get your flight fix, they also offer aerobatic flights across the sound at the Bremerton Airport.
Seattle’s Museum of Flight is the largest private air and space museum in the world and a great way to get a five-year old to watch Top Gun with you at home instead of that cartoon movie that is endlessly played. Although, if you’re like me and regularly make dad jokes about the “Danger Zone,” you put yourself at risk of your child realizing exactly where you stole that line from.
We wound up taking a lot of photos of tires and other circular objects, which I thought were interesting shots, but I didn’t note what most of the tires and engine were attached to. However, the bottom left image is the underside of an Apollo space capsule and the top right image is the afterburner of the SR-71 Blackbird.