If you love looking up at the sky and trying to figure out how airplanes work, you’re not alone. Fascination with the wild blue yonder is fairly common, and a visit to a local aviation museum is just what you need to satisfy that itch. Indeed, these museums can be found in hundreds of cities throughout North America, so it won’t take you long to find an aviation museum to enjoy in Washington D.C.
When people think of Washington, D.C., they usually think first of the federal government, but when it comes to aviation history, the city has even more to offer.
A few significant names of people who had affiliations with this city include Charles Lindbergh, who spent part of his childhood there; Nancy Hopkins, an aviator who was born in the city; and Roscoe Brown, Jr., one of the Tuskegee Airmen, also born there.
When it comes to aviation and space museums, they truly offer something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in a particular branch of the military, adore history, or you’re curious about what an airplane looks like in the cockpit, you can get what you need at a good aviation museum, and many of them are free to enter.
Below are the museums found in the Washington, D.C. area, and every one of them is very much worth your visit there.
1. Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Open daily most of the year, the museum is free to enter just like other museums in the city. It is part of the Smithsonian Institution and not only pays tribute to the United States Post Office, but it also consists of dozens of exhibits – including virtual exhibits – that are of interest to everyone. Past and current exhibits include everything from stamp collections to the role of the postal inspector, and much more.
There is also a collection of aircraft that includes the Wiseman Cooke, de Havilland DH-4, and the Stinson SR-10F Reliant. Moving from one section of the museum to another allows you to experience everything from what happens when you mail a letter to what types of transportation the post office has been using all these years. There is also a great gift shop to enjoy once your visit is complete.
2. National Museum of the United States Navy
Free to the public and open daily throughout most of the year, this museum commemorates the work of the U.S. Navy and includes hundreds of exhibits, educational opportunities, artifacts and memorabilia, and of course, various aircraft. These include the Vought FG-1D Corsair and the Yokosuka MXY-7-K1 Ohka 11, and there is also a great gift shop in case you want the perfect souvenir to remember your visit.
Some of the many activities they provide are those related to aerodynamics, the Battle of Iwo Jima, Flag Day, Pearl Harbor, and World War I, among others. The museum is the perfect place to view and study important events in American history, and it will never disappoint.
Open daily most days of the year, this museum is dedicated to celebrating one of the United States’ most precious freedoms – freedom of the press. Although it has been closed since December of 2019, it once provided hundreds of opportunities for citizens to learn about both newspapers and many other aspects of living in the United States.
The museum houses a Bell 206B JetRanger II, a helicopter that once helped reporters get stories for the television station KXAS in Dallas, Texas. It contains various exhibits and collections received from news outlets all across the country, and there are currently several online exhibits such as a memorial for journalists, famous front pages of newspapers, and more.
4. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
With free admission and a great gift shop, this museum is definitely one you will never forget. It is open daily except for Christmas Day, and its aircraft exhibit includes dozens of planes and helicopters, including the Curtiss R3C-2 Racer, Space Ship One, the 1900 Wright glider, Beech 17 Staggerwing, and the nose of a Boeing 747-151, among many others.
Some of the many exhibits on display include the spacesuit worn by Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong, a detailed exhibit on time and navigation, and even a special section devoted to German aviation used in World War II. This is a museum you will never tire of thanks to the number of things to see and do.