Going to an airplane museum is not something I longed to do, but since my husband is passionate about air power, I agreed to go. I am one of those people who likes to fly in airplanes, not look at them. Surprisingly, I found this museum worth my time. The museum is located in Chantilly, Virginia. (Not to be confused with the National Air and Space Museum located in DC)
This museum is filled with tons of airplanes and missiles from the twentieth century and beyond. The helicopters I recognized from daily newscasts from Viet Nam. It looked like there were planes representing all the wars we’ve engaged in. There is even a Nazi plane tucked in the corner. There are also a display of engines which meant nothing to me, but excited all the mechanically inclined.
There was a long, long, black, sleek plane called the SR70 that served as a strategic spy plane. No need for that humongous thing anymore. Satellites have replaced it.
I liked the paraphernalia they had from Charles Lindbergh’s time: watches, medals and toys. The Spirit of St. Louis is at the museum in DC. In 1925, he was a big heroe when he accomplished the solo flight from Roosevelt field in New York to LeBourget Field in Paris, France.
The Enola Gay, a Boeing B-29 Super Bomber that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima is hanging from the ceiling. The pilot, Brigadier General Paul Tibbets at one time lived in Columbus, Ohio, and named the plane after his mother. It was eerie looking at that plane, knowing the horrible damage it did . There has always been a debate on whether dropping this bomb saved millions more lives than it decimated.
The Discovery Shuttle
Don’t miss the optional tour. The tour guide shared stories of the astronauts the engineers who worked on the space vehicles.
My favorite artifact was the bigger than expected Discovery Shuttle. The scorched heat shields reminds us that it’s been through a lot.
There are also some of the early space capsules from the Mercury and Gemini program .
All kinds of space items are hanging from the ceiling including a spacastronauts support while they fixed the space shuttle and explored the moon. They were really out of this world. Aaaa
More plane things
There are military outfits from the navy, Air Force, displayed here and there amongst all the zillions of airplanes.
If restoration is an interest, there is an area where you can watch people working on planes.
There is also a big observation deck upstairs, and you can watch planes land, and get a good view of the city.
When you’re pooped out from looking at all those planes, you can drink coffee and eat fast food at McDonalds. After getting your second wind you can shop at the gift shop .
Since it’s a Smithsonian museum, it’s free, but you do have to pay for parking.