Aviation Museums

Museum Monday: aerospace museum finds

With the help of Twitter-buddy Isaac Alexander, I spent a good chunk of this Labor Day weekend putting together a list of aerospace museums to keep track of and, perhaps, to feature on Museum Mondays here at StuckatTheAirport.com.

The process took quite a bit longer than it might have because I kept clicking on links at these museum websites and, well, you know how that goes… a half hour later I’d get back to the task at hand.

So for Museum Monday this week, I’ll just share a few of the links that caught my eye.

First up: The Stafford Museum, in Weatherford, Oklahoma.

Named in honor of four-time astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, a post on this museum’s site sent me to a Gizmodo posting of a half-dozen awe-inspiring time lapse videos from space.

Here’s one:

And I can’t even remember now which museum site sent me to this video about jobs in aviation – circa 1947 – but I had to stop and watch the entire thing.

Have you visited a great aviation or space-related museum lately? Share your favorite here and it may be featured on a future edition of Museum Monday.

Museum Monday: 1928 biplane inside Ottawa International Airport

There are close to 700 aviation and space museums in the country. Each Monday, we explore one of them.

De Havilland Tiger Moth from Vintage Wings Canada

De Havilland Tiger Moth from Vintage Wings Canada

This week we have the story of a fun partnership between Canada’s Ottawa International Airport (YOW) and Vintage Wings of Canada, a local organization that acquires, restores, maintains and flies classic and significant aircraft, with an emphasis on Canadian airplanes.

You can see photos of the all of the museum’s aircraft on its website. To see the planes in person, though, you’ll have to be part of a scheduled group tour or show up at one of the organization’s special summer events.

But as this article (with video) in the Ottawa Sun describes, for a while at least, air passengers will be able to see one of the museum’s treasures in the baggage claim area at Ottawa International Airport.

Last week museum volunteers flew a 1928 WACO Taperwing biplane to the Ottawa Airport, disassembled the plane enough to get it into the terminal, and then put the plane back together in the baggage claim area.

WACO Taperwing 1928 from Vintage Wings Canada

The biplane plane was recently featured in the film, “Amelia,” starring Hilary Swank and is scheduled to be at the YOW airport until mid-September. Volunteers from Vintage Wings will be on-site to tell passengers about the history of the airplane.

1928 WACO Taperwing inside Ottowa Airport

Volunteers reassemble the 1928 WACO Taperwing inside YOW airport

Do you have a favorite aviation museum you’d like others to know about?

Leave a comment here and we’ll try to add the nominated sites to the Museum Monday schedule.

Museum Monday: Museum of Flight, Seattle

It’s Museum Monday here at StuckatTheAirport.com, so time to take a look at one of the 694 aviation museums around the country.

This week: a quick look at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, which has just kicked off a new exhibit about women in the aerospace industry: Chasing Horizons: Women in Aerospace.

Associated Women Pilots of Boeing Field (1933-1946). Museum of Flight collection.

The exhibit starts off with pioneer French aeronaut Élisabeth Thible, who became the first woman to fly in a balloon in 1784, and continues through aviation’s Golden Age of the 1920s and 1930s, World War II, and to today’s fighter pilots, aerobatic pilots, engineers, and astronauts.

Of course, there are plenty of other things to see here. The Museum of Flight is home to a vast collection of more than 150 rare aircraft and space vehicles.

There’s a control tower overlooking the very active Boeing Field and, in the Personal Courage wing, a display of 28 fighter aircraft.  The major attraction, though, is the six-story Great Gallery where there are more than 20 full-size aircraft on display, including this Lockheed M-21 Blackbird.

Lockheed Blackbird at Museum of Flight

See that little red dot to the left of the Blackbird? That’s my favorite museum artifact – an early flying car known as the Taylor Aerocar III:

The museum also has a Concorde on loan from British Airways and the first presidential jet plane, a specially built Boeing 707-120, which had this ‘high-tech’ conference area.

First Air Force One Presidential plane

Seattle’s Museum of Flight is located just south of Seattle and not far from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. So it’s a good option for an activity during a long layover. See the Museum of Flight website for more information about exhibits, special events, hours and admission.

And let us know if you have a favorite aviation museum you’d like us to feature.

Museum Monday: Gallery of Flight at Milwaukee General Mitchell Int’l Airport

If you like flying, chances are you like airplanes. And if you like airplanes, chances are you like visiting aviation museums once in a while.

Lucky for you there are more than 600 aviation and space-related museums around the country.   Each Monday, StuckatTheAirport.com visits one of them.

This week, it’s the Mitchell Gallery of Flight inside Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport.

Hamiltion Metalplan at aviation museum inside Milwaukee Mitchell Int'l Airport

(Hamilton Metalplane display, courtesy Mitchell Gallery of Flight)

Like the airport, the museum is named in honor of General Billy Mitchell, who is regarded as the Father of the U.S. Air Force.

Mitchell is profiled in the People section of the museum, along with Wisconsin-born fighter ace Dick Bong and other aviators with Wisconsin links, including Charles Lindbergh, who visited the Milwaukee airport in 1927.  Two exhibit cases display artifacts and photos about Captain James Lovell, who is best known for his four Gemini and Apollo spaceflights.

James Lovell exhibit at MKE Gallery of Flight museum

In the Aircraft & Airships section of the museum, you’ll see antique propellers, aviation-related artifacts and loads of models, including a 22-foot, 1/36th scale model of the Graf Zeppelin II (a sister to the Hindenberg) and models of military jets, WWII aircraft and airplanes of all eras.

Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport Gallery of Flight exhibit

(Photo by Prateek Bahadur, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Best of all, the museum is located pre-security at Milwaukee General Mitchell International Airport and admission is free.

For information about hours and exhibits, see the Mitchell Gallery of Flight website.

aircraft models displayed at Gallery of Flight Museum in General Mitchell International Airport Milwaukee

(Photo by Prateek Bahadur, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Do you have a favorite aviation/space museum? Please feel free to nominate it for a future edition of Museum Monday.

Aviation and space museums on the must-see list

Aviation museum Pima Air and Space

(Hanging planes at Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, AZ)

I am an idiot.

At least that’s what some fans of Dayton, Ohio’s United States Air Force Museum and many other aviation museums were calling me today.

They read my msnbc.com column – Aviation and space museums that soar – and were pissed that their favorite museum wasn’t among the six museums featured in the story.

I’m not surprised. The museums I included in the story are great. But there are around 600 other aviation and space museums around the country and each has its own unique collection and incredible team of supporters and volunteers.  So it was a good bet that a lot of people were going to be disappointed with the short list in my story.

United States Air Force Museum, Dayton

(Northrop B-2 Spirit on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force: U.S. Air Force photo)

What did I miss?

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio for sure.  According to Bobby Schlein, a self-described aviation enthusiast “with a degree and a job in the field,” the museum has“the most extensive collection of defense aircraft… from a replica of the Wright flyer to the F-22 and most in between; as well as a presidential and experiential hangar with many iterations of Air Force One and several very rare (some one of a kind) experimental vehicles including the X-70B Valkyrie.” Another huge plus …no admission fee.

What else?  The Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, MI, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, WI, and Kennedy Space Center in Florida were just some of the other “must-see” places people wished were on the list as well.

They are all certainly worth a visit. And in this day and age, when so many art and history organizations are hurting for money and support, they’re all lucky to have such devoted fans.

So apologies if I overlooked your favorite aviation or space museum on this list of six:

Everett, Wash.

What you’ll see: On Boeing’s 90-minute tour through the Everett factory, visitors go inside the world’s largest building (by volume) and see the production line for the 747, 767, 777 and the new 787 airplanes. The adjacent Future of Flight Aviation Center displays airplane engines and other giant airplane parts and offers a wide variety of interactive exhibits, including the knob and dial-encrusted flight deck from a 727 airplane.

McMinnville, Ore.

What you’ll see: The museum houses the infamous, huge Howard Hughes Flying Boat HK-1, better known as the Spruce Goose, and more than 50 aircraft from various eras, including a Wright 1903 Flyer replica, a Russian Photon space capsule and a Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird.

Fighter jets Pima Air & Space Museum

(Fighter jets outside the hangar dedicated to World War II Aircraft at the Pima Air & Space Museum; Courtesy Arizona Aerospace Foundation)

Tucson, Ariz.

What you’ll see: The collection at this 80-acre museum includes more than 300 aircraft and spacecraft, 125,000 aviation-related artifacts, a relocated WWII barracks and a space gallery with a moon rock and a training version of an Apollo space capsule. The museum also displays President John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, and hundreds of other rare, important and restored aircraft.

New York

What you’ll see: Located on and in the 900-foot-long ESSEX class aircraft carrier Intrepid, the museum is itself a national historical landmark with a collection that includes a Concorde as well as aircraft from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard. The submarine USS Growler, the only submarine still in existence that fired nuclear missiles is also part of the museum and is open to the public.

San Diego, Calif.

What you’ll see: Housed in a 1930s-era Ford Motor Company Exposition building, the museum presents science, aviation and space history in a series of themed airplane, spacecraft and artifact-filled galleries that include a 1928 Ford Tri-Motor passenger plane, a working flying replica of Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 9 command module and many other one-of-a-kind private, military and commercial artifacts and aircraft.


What you’ll see: The world’s largest collection of historic air and spacecraft includes a planetarium, an IMAX theater and thousands of artifacts, including the original Wright 1903 Flyer, Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the Apollo 11 command module Columbia from the first lunar landing mission, and a moon rock that you’re allowed to touch. And that’s just at the building on the National Mall. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located near Dulles International Airport, contains many of the museum’s largest objects and artifacts, including the Space Shuttle Enterprise, a deHavilland Chipmunk aerobatic plane and the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay.

Have I missed your favorite aviation or space museum? Please share the details in the comments section below.