If you’ve always been fascinated with airplanes and what makes them tick, a visit to your local aviation museum is the perfect way to enjoy some downtime. These museums are filled with artifacts that include everything from flight simulators to old medals and uniforms, not to mention great exhibits on planes both old and new. Pennsylvania has 14 aviation museums for you to enjoy.
Aviation and space museums differ a bit depending on where they’re located, but they all have one thing in common – they are all devoted to flight, space, and the military.
If you’re a veteran or a history buff, you’ll be fascinated with everything they offer, and the museums in Pennsylvania will never disappoint. They help all Pennsylvanians commemorate the state’s role in aviation history, and they help bring citizens together by educating them and letting them enjoy access to hundreds of memorabilia.
Like most other states, Pennsylvania has its share of aviators and pilots, including Paul Weitz, Theodore Freeman, James Irwin, and Pete Conrad. The 14 museums in the state can help familiarize you with their roles in making our nation great when it comes to aviation, and if you need information on these museums, below is a description of each of them.
1. Air Heritage Museum (Beaver Falls)
Open Monday through Saturday and on Sunday by appointment only, this museum is free to visit and has a great gift shop as well. Located north of Pittsburgh, it is home to aircraft that includes the North American T-28B Trojan, Fairchild C-123K Provider, Beech T-34B Mentor, and the Grumman OV-1D Mohawk, to name a few. You can get additional details by visiting their website at www.airheritage.org.
2. Golden Age Air Museum (Bethel)
Open from May to October, the museum is located east of Harrisburg and is home to dozens of aircraft, including the Star Cavalier Model B, Pietenpol B4-A Aircamper, Curtiss JN-4D Jenny, Experimental Aircraft Association P-1 Biplane, and the Travel Air 2000, among others. If you need additional information on their current exhibits, you can visit their website at www.goldenageair.org or call them directly at 717-933-9566.
3. U.S. Army Heritage Museum and Education Center (Carlisle)
Located west of Hershey, this museum is open Tuesday through Sunday throughout most of the year, and inside the facility you’ll find the Bell AH-1F Cobra and the Bell UH-1H Iroquois. You can stay current on their exhibits by calling them at 717-245-3700 or by visiting their website at www.armyheritage.org. They offer tons of resources for both educators and laypeople alike, and their online resources include real soldiers’ stories, photo galleries, and much more.
4. Pennsylvania National Guard Military Museum (Fort Indiantown Gap)
Open Monday and Friday, and other days by appointment only, this museum is located northeast of Harrisburg and is home to the Lockheed EC-130E Hercules, Bell AH-1F Cobra, Convair TF-102A Delta Dagger, Hughes OH-6A Cayuse, and the Bell UH-1H Iroquois. The museum is housed in a two-story barracks facility built in 1941, and its artifacts include dozens of items from the Civil War to the Gulf War, as well as memorabilia representing the Pennsylvania National Guard and Fort Indiantown Gap itself.
5. The State Museum of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg)
Open Wednesday through Sunday, the museum has a great gift shop and is home to the Knepper KA-1 Crusader and the Piper J-3C-65 Cub. There is a moderate admission fee to get in, and if you’d like additional details on everything they offer, you can visit them online at www.statemuseumpa.org or call them directly at 717-787-4980.
6. Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum (Horsham)
Some of the many aircraft featured in this museum include the Kaman SH-2F Seasprite, Bell UH-1V Iroquois, Grumman F9F-2 Panther, Sikorsky SH-34J Seabat, and the Lockheed P-3B Orion, among others. They are open Wednesday through Sunday and can be reached via phone at 215-672-2277 or online at http://wingsoffreedommuseum.org. There is a nominal fee to enter the museum, and it has a great gift shop for those who wish to bring home a souvenir.
7. Eagles Mere Air Museum (Laporte)
Open on Saturday and Sunday only, the museum charges a nominal fee for admission and houses aircraft such as the Curtiss Fledgling, Aeronca C-3, de Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth, General Aircraft Company Thunderbird W-14, and the Travel Air 3000, among others. You can get more details on the facility by visiting their website at www.eaglesmereairmuseum.org or by calling them at 570-946-7663.
8. KLBE Air Museum (Latrobe)
Located southeast of Pittsburgh, the KLBE Air Museum is open on Saturday and Sunday and is currently home to four different aircraft – the Cessna 150, Stinson AT-19 Reliant, Great Lakes 2T-1A, and the WSK Lim-2, with the Reliant being a single-engine plane nicknamed Old Blue. The latter is even painted just like the planes that used to deliver mail in the late 1930s in the area, so it has quite a significance to the people in the town of Latrobe.
9. Piper Aviation Museum (Lock Haven)
The museum is closed from December 1 to March 1, but is open daily the rest of the year. They have a great gift shop for buying souvenirs after your visit, and they are home to a few dozen Piper airplanes, including the PA-31P-350 Mojave, PA-12 Super Cruiser, PA-38-112 Tomahawk, PA-23 Aztec E, and the PT-1, among others. They can be found online at www.pipermuseum.com.
10. Franklin Institute Science Museum (Philadelphia)
Open daily most days of the year, this museum is home to five different aircraft – the Budd BB-1, Wright B, Lockheed T-33A, Quickie Aircraft Quickie 1, and the Mitchell Nimbus 3L. There is a nominal admission fee for those who wish to visit the museum, and they even have a gift shop for those who want to commemorate their visit with a souvenir. You can also visit them online at www2.fi.edu if you need additional information on what they have to offer.
11. Grumman Greenhouse/Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) (Philadelphia)
If you want to see the Grumman TS-2 Firecat, this is the facility you need to visit. It is located on North Broad Street and is on permanent display, so you can visit it at any time to enjoy the exhibit. You can visit them at www.pafa.org or by calling them directly at 215-972-7600 if you need questions answered or require additional information.
12. Mid Atlantic Air Museum (Reading)
Open daily most of the year, the museum has a great gift shop and is home to dozens of aircraft, including the Cessna UC-78 Bobcat, Bensen B-8M Gyrocopter, Taylor J-2 Cub, Spratt 10B, and the Sikorsky HH-52A Seaguard, among many others. In fact, if you’d love nothing more than to spend the entire day looking at airplanes, this is one museum that is certain not to disappoint.
13. Allegheny Arms and Armor Museum (Smethport)
Now closed, the museum housed aircraft such as the Grumman NA-6A Intruder and the Sikorsky CH-34A Choctaw. Located on Main Street, it had numerous outdoor displays that were on exhibit seven days a week.
14. American Helicopter Museum and Education Center (West Chester)
Open Wednesday through Sunday, and on Monday and Tuesday by appointment only, this museum is home to dozens of aircraft that include the Gyrodyne DSN-3, Bell Boeing YV-22A Osprey, Sikorsky S-51 Dragonfly, Brantly B-2B, and the Air Command 447 Commander Sport, as well as others. You can get additional information on the facility by calling 610-436-9600 or by going online at http://americanhelicopter.museum/.