The Museum of Flight
Goodyear F2G Fighter in the Great Gallery
|Charles Simonyi Space Gallery|
|The Personal Courage Wing|
|The Great Gallery|
|Museum Store, Cafe, Photography|
|Museum Web Site|
Boeing Field south of downtown Seattle (click to see MAP)
This is one of Seattle's great attractions and rightly so. This museum is an impressive display of aviation history from the Wright brothers Flyer to our most advanced spacecraft. It has a lovely campus, graceful architecture, and well-designed displays to interest and educate its guests. Over 400,000 guests including 120,000 students visit the museum annually.
What does it offer? The Museum of Flight ("MOF") takes the visitor through a history of aviation and space travel. The MOF features over 150 planes and other aircraft.
History can be either dry or exciting. At the MOF, you see history presented at its best. The two main galleries and the Airpark are loaded with beautiful presentations of the finest examples of aircraft in aviation history.
The MOF was designed to present examples of important aircraft in impressive displays but it was also designed to educate the museum visitor. The efforts of many years by countless employees and volunteers help make a visit to this great museum special.
Some museums get swamped when they try to absorb large crowds. The MOF is designed to accommodate large crowds. It offers ample free parking. The museum has very helpful staff and they are customer centric.
One tip for visiting the MOF (this applies to almost all museums) is to arrive at opening time. You will enjoy a while to savor the place before the late morning throngs arrive. I think the first time visitor should start at the Great Gallery and do activities like sitting in the Blackbird cockpit and using the simulators before any line builds up.
SPECIFIC GALLERIES AND DISPLAYS
THE CHARLES SIMONYI SPACE GALLERY
The Space Shuttle Trainer
This 2012 addition to the Museum of Flight is a blockbuster permanent exhibit. You can see and walk in the actual trainer that was used for 30 years to prepare all of the astronauts to fly into space on the Space Shuttle. The Space Shuttle Trainer is one of Seattle's major attractions by itself.
The Space Gallery also features a half size replica of the Hubble Space Telescope and the beautiful Boeing Interial Upper Stage.
Several planes are displayed in this open air museum including the first flightworthy Boeing 747. My personal favorites are the Concorde and Air Force One.
British Airways donated this example of the world's fastest passenger aircraft. It is thrilling to walk around and inside of this gorgeous machine. The Concorde had to be carefully designed to achieve Mach 2 (over 1,300 mph) while cruising at 60,000 feet (11 miles high). The Concorde went from New York to Paris in 3.5 hours compared to the normal jetliner flying time of 8 hours. This plane looks like it is moving when it is sitting still.
Air Force One
This Boeing 707 was the first jet used by the President of the United States. As you walk through the interior, you can feel the power wielded by the government officials that traveled on this jet. This plane was used by Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. This was the plane that took Nixon and Kissinger to China on their historic trip to visit Beijing.
THE J. ELROY MCCAW PERSONAL COURAGE WING
The Personal Courage Wing is a bold statement in this great museum. This Wing is dedicated to presenting the aircraft used in World Wars 1 and 2. The exhibits feature some of the most important fighter planes from these massive conflicts. The MOF has done a spectacular job of displaying history with an emphasis on excitement and of conservation. Because of the fragile nature of many of the fabrics and materials on exhibit, both levels of the Personal Courage Wing are displayed in low light but with floodlights to adequately present the aircraft, uniforms, aircraft models, and other items.
I was deeply moved as I walked around the World War 2 gallery. Seeing the ten beautiful engines of war close up really made me appreciate their power and grace. Airplanes were one of the most powerful weapons of World War 2. The fastest and most maneuverable fighter planes were the ones that survived.
The P-51D Mustang
For me, the most impressive plane in the Personal Courage Wing is the handsome P-51D Mustang. This plane is one of the icons of World War 2 fighter aircraft. The amazing fact about this plane was that it was designed and built in 120 days to meet the specifications presented by the Royal Air Force. It is one of the most beautiful airplanes that has ever been built. You could display this plane in an art museum and it would certainly qualify as a work of art.
THE T. A. WILSON GREAT GALLERY
Wow!! Those three letters can summarize this magnificent museum hall built of glass and steel and filled with aircraft from the history of aviation. Numerous aircraft from the Wright brothers Flyer to the fastest airplane in the world are on display. My favorite aircraft in the Gallery is the SR-71 Blackbird.
The SR-71 Blackbird
This is the fastest airplane ever flown. It could reach speeds of Mach 3 (2,200 mph) and cruise at 85,000 feet (16 miles or 27 km). Introduced to the US Air Force fleet as a long-range reconnaissance plane in 1966, it was retired in 1998. Since 1976, it has held the speed record for the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft. This sleek, titanium plane was built in secrecy at Lockheed's famous Skunk Works. It was the first plane designed as a stealth plane.
I think the SR-71 is the rock star of the MOF. It is a magnificent machine that was designed to perform a specific mission and do it exceptionally well. A highlight of the Great Gallery is an actual cockpit that was restored from a wrecked Blackbird. Visitors can sit in the cockpit of the world's fastest airplane. It is one great place to take photos.
The MOF has a large, high-quality museum store.
The Cafe serves hot entrees, soups, salads, and sandwiches. It is open during museum hours.
Photography is allowed in most of the museum. You cannot use flash in certain areas such as the Personal Courage Wing but you really don't need it in the Great Gallery. The MOF is a fabulous destination for photographers.
View Museum of Flight in a larger map
Boeing Field south of downtown Seattle
9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle, WA 98108
From downtown Seattle, you can ride King County bus number 124 to get to the Museum. The bus stop is in front of the Museum.
Please click here to get the bus' timetable and route map.
The MOF is open daily (except for Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The MOF is free on the first Thursday of the month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Please click here to go to the Museum's web site page about visiting the museum to see current admission prices.
MUSEUM WEB SITE
Please click here to go to the Museum of Flight Web Site.
PHOTO GALLERY INDEX
We also have a photo gallery with four pages about the Museum of Flight. Click on the page number below to go to the photo gallery pages.
The MOF is a fascinating place. You can easily spend three to four hours in this place and still find a lot more to see and do. It is designed to be interesting and entertaining for visitors of all ages and it definitely fills this mission in grand fashion. This is one of the great museums in the United States.
What I really like about the MOF is that it is large but you can digest it a little bit at a time. Unlike some giant museums like the National Air and Space Museum that are daunting or impossible to tackle in one visit, you can see most of this museum in a few hours. If you break up your visit with a coffee break and maybe lunch, you can spend a few hours at the museum and have a great time seeing most of its offerings.
I rank this as one of Seattle's best attractions and put it on the short list of must see attractions. As a final note about the MOF, they have been awarded one of the Space Shuttle simulators and that will be a significant addition to the museum's holdings of historic aviation artifacts.