The Museum of Flight

Whether you are an avid airman (or woman), love history, are interested in the world’s space programs or just like to look at old airplanes, the Museum of Flight in Seattle has something for you.

Veronica and I swung by recently thinking we would check out some old aircraft, walk around a bit and then head home.

Were we ever in for a surprise.

An Apollo capsule, which held three astronauts. Can you imagine flying into outer space in this sucker?
An Apollo capsule, which held three astronauts. Can you imagine flying into outer space in this sucker?

The museum needs probably five hours to be able to even consider really seeing everything. We certainly walked by all the exhibits, but did not have the time to stop and read all of the displays, watch any of the movies or try our hand at the flight simulators.

There are many areas of the museum to highlight, but my three favorites were:

  1. Air Force One
  2. The Space exhibits
  3. The WWII exhibit

Outside the building – weather permitting – the museum has an Air Force One from John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson’s tenure. It is remarkable to walk around what was then a state of the art plane and imagine how amazing the current ones must be. This one features huge bathrooms, plenty of legroom in the seats, advanced communications systems, and plenty of personal touches. It even had a doggie door to a room for the Presidential pooches to sleep in!

The state of the art communications center inside the Air Force One that was used when John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson were presidents.
The state of the art communications center inside the Air Force One that was used when John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson were presidents.

One thing I learned while aboard this plane was that when a President flies across the water, there are boats all along the flight path to perform any necessary rescues.

A Russian Soyuz capsule which was developed in the 1960s for flights to space, and a variation is still used today.
A Russian Soyuz capsule which was developed in the 1960s for flights to space, and a variation is still used today.
The space gallery across the street from the Museum of Flight features this giant training shuttle, which every astronaut who flew on a shuttle used. It also had a ginormous model of a space shuttle, left.
The space gallery across the street from the Museum of Flight features this giant training shuttle, which every astronaut who flew on a shuttle used. It also had a ginormous model of a space shuttle, left.

There were two space exhibits – one across the street in the Spaceflight Academy. This room features a NASA’s full fuselage trainer, which was used by every Shuttle astronaut as part of their mission training. You can enter the back end of the shuttle to see what the interior looked like and get a good idea on the enormity of the aircraft. Along the walls, there are four areas that tell the broader story the history of the shuttle program and the International Space Station, as well as a Russian Soyuz capsule.

Later we stumbled upon even more space related items just off the Great Gallery in the main part of the building. Here was a replica of the International Space Station, an Apollo Capsule (I sure as heck wouldn’t fly into space in that thing), a moon landing craft, space suits from Russia and the U.S., information on the Space Race and sending animals into space and much, much more. Really fascinating stuff.

The World War II fighter exhibit had lots of cool airplanes from nearly every country that fought in the war.
The World War II fighter exhibit had lots of cool airplanes from nearly every country that fought in the war.

And finally, the WWII exhibit was incredible. It features warplanes from nearly every country involved in the conflict, movies, medals, newspapers, radio broadcasts, uniforms and tons and tons of information. I could’ve spent two hours in just this part alone. Whoever curated this section deserves some sort of prize.

Seeing all of the different airplanes used in the war was amazing, but so was learning about the history of some of the pilots in the war and how the planes came to be built.

Other areas of the museum:

Great Gallery: Huge room filled with at least 25 planes and helicopters of varying size and type, with some on the floor to be walked around and seen up close, to others hanging from all angles from the ceiling.

The museum's Great Gallery features numerous aircraft, including fighter jets, helicopters and plane cars.
The museum’s Great Gallery features numerous aircraft, including fighter jets, helicopters and plane cars.

WWI wing: The World War I wing of the building didn’t get enough attention from me to comment too much. I don’t know much about the Great War (though I’m reading Guns of August right now), and I was a bit burnt out after the WWII exhibit. This area features tons of cool looking biplanes, the history of balloons and more about the aerial fighting done in this conflict.

The Sopwith Triplane was a single seat British plane used during World War I. The Museum of Flight has a huge display of World War I and World War II fighter planes.
The Sopwith Triplane was a single seat British plane used during World War I. The Museum of Flight has a huge display of World War I and World War II fighter planes.

History of Boeing: The original building where the aircraft built its planes is housed in the Red Barn and there are two levels of exhibits in this part of the museum giving not only the history of the Seattle company, but also of flight in general. Some really fantastic artifacts in this area.

One of the coolest parts of the Museum of Flight is that it has aircraft from both sides of the war, not just the USA's side.
One of the coolest parts of the Museum of Flight is that it has aircraft from both sides of the war, not just the USA’s side.

Wings Cafe: Veronica gravitated toward this sign immediately to grab a photo – not to eat. Sadly, we didn’t see Lowell there.

This is the type of plane that Amelia Earhart was flying when she went missing on her flight around the world.
This is the type of plane that Amelia Earhart was flying when she went missing on her flight around the world.

Randy’s Restaurant: If you are looking for good diner food while you are at the Museum then look no further than Randy’s.

Located just down the street, this old school diner caters to the many denizens of nearby Boeing Field, featuring model airplanes hung from nearly every square inch of the ceiling. There are framed photographs of every aircraft imaginable on the walls, and even photo albums tucked all over featuring more photos of aircraft.

The food isn’t too bad either.

– Craig Craker

No trip to the Museum of Flight is complete without a visit to Randy's Restaurant for some old fashioned diner food. Come for the food and coffee, stay for the model airplanes hanging from the ceiling.
No trip to the Museum of Flight is complete without a visit to Randy’s Restaurant for some old fashioned diner food. Come for the food and coffee, stay for the model airplanes hanging from the ceiling.

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