National Air and Space Museum

My list of airplane related museums is long and seemingly impossible to complete. The venues here in the States are attainable and not too much of a worry to cross off my list. The ones across the pond are going to be the difficult ones. At the very top of my list was The National Air and Space Museum. With my Spring Break trip to Gettysburg, we took a day trip to Washington D.C. to check out the sights.

Before we planned on going to D.C., I never knew that Air and Space was two separate museums. The main one is among the rest of the Smithsonian museums in the National Mall while the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is a traffic filled drive located at Dulles International Airport. My son and I did both. There is no way that I could be that close and not make the drive. My love of aviation runs deep.

National Air and Space Museum

My expectations may have been a little too high because I was a little disappointed. Please don’t get me wrong here, there is plenty to look at and it’s worth the visit when you combine it with the rest of what Washington D.C. has to offer. My main beef is that the exhibits are all basically cramped into small rooms that really can’t facilitate the mass of visitors. With the Wright Flyer, Spirit of St. Louis, and the Bell X-1 on display here, it was a must for me to go. I am a sucker for historic airplanes.

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

This was more up my alley and I felt a sort of redemption while walking inside. This is your traditional, hangar filled with airplanes museum. If you had to choose one to go to, this should be your choice. The collection was a fantastic blend to satisfy anyone. The Enola Gay was really the main reason for the visit but seeing the space shuttle Discovery really was a show stopper.

33 thoughts on “National Air and Space Museum

  1. Thanks for the refresher on the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. I had forgotten how cram packed it was in 1977 when I visited it as a High School Junior. And many of those planes weren’t even there yet! The Udvar-Hasey looks more like the Air Museum at RAF Duxford outside of London. The cool thing about Duxford is that you can, on a lucky day, actually see some of the classics flying. I took my USAFE Command Chaplain (also a dear friend) and we saw the Spitfire fire up and taxi to take off. His Dad flew Spitfires for the RAF in the Battle of Britain as one of the Yanks In the RAF.

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      • Hey there, thanks for a wonderful series of images, and yes you need to get to Duxford!

        I miss that aspect of British warplane heritage as I now live in NZ, but we do have some good stuff here, with the bi-annual Wanaka show and Peter Jackson’s (my old employer) collection, it’s just difficult to get to.
        Cheers!

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      • No problem! I was just looking into a trip out that way. I’d like to think that I could make it out there within the next ten years. It may have to wait until the kids are out of college.

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  2. Thanks mate really great photos ,you are really fortunate to have all these aircraft to see in your country it’s so good that your government places so much importance on preserving these craft .( p.s Chance Vought corsair is my favourite American aircraft of WW11, beautiful design ! ).

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  3. That is some good photos of a spectacular museum. Seems like when I was there last the Gekko was in pieces? And funny seeing the Shuttle “Discovery”, I was just at Kennedy Space Center this last week and saw the “Atlantis”.

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  4. Thanks for the excellent photos – you have answered a few questions I have had recently, specifically what are they doing with “Flak Bait” (the B-26, they own all the pieces) and the Horten IX (Go229). I also wonder where will they fit “Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby”, the B-17G that is getting bounced out of the NMUSAF by the installation of “Memphis Belle” ? Word is that the Smithsonian are taking it, but it’s going to be in storage in Dayton while they make room. 🙂

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    • You’re very welcome. I didn’t get a chance to tour their restoration exhibit with “Flak Bait”. We didn’t have enough time to take it in without having to miss the rest of the exhibits. I also heard that the B-17 was heading their. They could end up putting it in the National Mall location. The Udvar-Hazy makes more sense though.

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