We introduced you to 12 Museums For the Aviation Enthusiast a couple of weeks ago, but that list barely scratched the surface for true flight buffs. Here are 10 more great museums, many of them recommended to us by readers.
1. INTREPID SEA, AIR & SPACE MUSEUM // NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Want to visit a museum that is itself a fascinating piece of history? The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid—which served in World War II and the Vietnam War, as well as a recovery vehicle for NASA spacecraft in the 1960s—was decommissioned in 1974. Since 1982, this National Historic Landmark has housed the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on New York City's Hudson River. On deck, visitors can see the Space Shuttle Enterprise (a prototype that never actually went to space), a Concorde jet (which was capable of crossing the Atlantic in under three hours), and the submarine Growler, the only such vehicle with a guided missile system open to the public. This summer, the museum will open Star Trek: The Starfleet Academy Experience, an exhibit that honors the 50th anniversary of Star Trek.
2. AMERICAN HELICOPTER MUSEUM AND EDUCATION CENTER // WEST CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA
The American Helicopter Museum near Philadelphia has experimental aircraft on display, as well as civilian and military helicopters, autogyros, and hybrid airplane-helicopters like the V-22 Osprey. The aircraft aren't all just for show—on select dates, the museum offers helicopter rides to visitors for $60. (May 16 is your next chance to take advantage of this opportunity.)
3. EVERGREEN AVIATION AND SPACE MUSEUM // MCMINNVILLE, OREGON
The Evergreen Museum is the permanent home of Howard Hughes’s H-4 Hercules, better known as the Spruce Goose. The Spruce Goose may be the most beguiling airplane ever built. Made mostly out of wood, this "flying boat" has the longest wingspan of any aircraft in history. The staggeringly giant plane made its one and only flight on November 2, 1947. At Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, you can go inside it (though visiting the cockpit and getting a picture will cost you extra). The museum also has a collection of early aeronautical inventions, World War II planes, a Titan II missile, and the SR-71 Blackbird.
4. AIR ZOO // KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN
The Air Zoo is unique in that, besides being a museum that houses over 50 kinds of aircraft, it also offers theme park-like rides for children to enjoy, as well as immersive flight simulators and a 3D movie theater. What's more, the Air Zoo also stages experiment-heavy science camps and classes for kids during summer, winter, and spring breaks. You can take a virtual tour of the Air Zoo here.
5. MARCH FIELD AIR MUSEUM // RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA
Established in 1918 to train pilots for World War I, March Field has its roots in the earliest stages of military aviation history. In 1979, March Field Air Museum opened on the grounds, and the museum grew quickly as a place to store, curate, and display artifacts and aircraft from the Air Force’s rich history. Aviation geeks can also check out the large selection of texts in the Yeager Family Library. For something a little louder, the museum will host its annual air show on April 16 and 17.
6. FLYING HERITAGE COLLECTION // EVERETT, WASHINGTON
The Flying Heritage Collection is a private museum started by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen in 1998. It began as an effort to collect and restore World War II aircraft, and the museum now features 20 warplanes from both theaters of battle. It's an astounding private collection that is open to the public, and the museum offers educational events, battle recreations, and summer camps as well.
7. THE NATIONAL NAVAL AVIATION MUSEUM // PENSACOLA, FLORIDA
As the world's largest museum dedicated to naval aviation, this Florida attraction sits on 37 acres and has 350,000 square feet of exhibit space. Besides displaying more than 150 aircraft from the past 100 years, the National Aviation Museum also offers something no other museum can match: The Blue Angels. The world-famous flight squadron is based at Naval Air Station Pensacola, and museum visitors can watch them practice overhead on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. You can even meet the pilots, who host autograph sessions on most Wednesdays after their practices.
Admission is free, and the museum is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. If you can’t make it to Pensacola, you can take a virtual tour at its website.
8. STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND & AEROSPACE MUSEUM // ASHLAND, NEBRASKA
The Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum (formerly known as the Strategic Air & Space Museum) features World War II aircraft and educational exhibits, and is also home to satellite and module models from America's space program. There is a permanent exhibit on Ashland, Nebraska native and NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson, who spent 152 days aboard the International Space Station.
9. ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM // LONDON AND COSFORD, UK
Of course, America isn't the only place where aviation buffs can get their fix. The UK's Royal Air Force Museum has locations in London and Cosford, England. Together, they have 170 aircraft on display. The exhibits take visitors on a journey from the beginning of military aviation in World War I through the most modern RAF technology. In London, the museum has a permanent and extensive exhibit on the Battle of Britain, which was a major turning point in World War II and is perhaps the most famous air battle in history. Needless to say, it's worth a trip.
10. TEMORA AVIATION MUSEUM // TEMORA, AUSTRALIA
The No. 10 Elementary Flying Training School was established in Temora, New South Wales, in 1941. Around 2400 pilots were trained there before the academy closed in 1946. For decades, the airfield was used for other purposes until the Temora Aviation Museum was established in 1999. If looking at historic aircraft parked on the ground doesn't rev your engines, the museum hosts flying days where vintage planes take to the skies for exciting aerial demonstrations.