The museum is located south of Seattle, next to the current Boeing factories.
A small group of aviation enthusiasts in Seattle, saddened to see many objects or remnants of aviation history disappear, created the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation. Their objective was not only to preserve but also to raise public awareness of what this memory represents. The first official exhibitions of the Aviation Museum were presented at the Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 Universal Exhibition.
When you visit a museum you not only appreciate the works on display but also the buildings which house them. The aeronautical museums are certainly an exception. They are often located in rehabilitated hangars on the outskirts of airport areas. This is certainly not the case with the Seattle Museum of Flight, which is housed in a magnificent new building alongside the legendary “Red Barn” where Mr. Boeing built his first aircraft more than a century ago.
Mr. Boeing was a carpenter and it is no coincidence that the Boeing factories were born in Seattle in 1916. You will be surprised when you visit his first offices, in the authentic” Red Barn”. On the pictures, the men cut, sand and assemble the parts of the first planes, wooden elements simply covered with fabrics!
Today with more than 175 planes and spacecraft, tens of thousands of objects, rare photographs, simulators, play areas for children. . . the Air Museum is a great goal for a family day. The huge hall you enter is dizzying, under the canopy planes of all kinds and types seems to be flying above our heads. They have made history and are mythical for most of them.
Make sure you have time to spare, you can spend a whole day wandering under the planes. Sit in the real cockpit of an SR-71 Blackbird, or take control of the simulators for a few minutes: sensations guaranteed!
Some examples among the legendary aircraft on display in the museum:
The B-40: 1st aircraft manufactured in large quantities that reduced mail delivery between the two sides of the United States from several weeks to a few days.
The Blackbird or SR -71: It flew at 2200 mph and 90 000 ft altitude and remained unreachable by Soviet radars and missiles for a very long time thanks to its almost unrivalled performance. Made entirely of titanium, the fuselage temperature could increase by up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit despite an ambient temperature of -76°F.
These aircraft made aviation history: Douglas World Cruisers made the first round-the-world flight, Boeing B-17 and B-29 and North American Aviation’s P-51 bombed during World War II. Douglas DC-3 was probably the most famous and manufactured twin-engine aircraft in history, while the Boeing 707 and 747 embody the advent of the jet airliner era.
The conquest of space is also on display. American rockets having participated in the manned space conquest are displayed: The Mercury, Gemini, Apollo capsules still carry the stigmas of their re-entry into the atmosphere.
The space shuttle (training model) is displayed in its real version. Also, as soon as you enter this section, you immerse yourself in the world of aerospace and relive the journeys to the moon by wondering how men could go so far in such precarious capsules, or by admiring the authentic logbooks of the astronauts or engineers who assisted them.
Volunteers, often people who have been involved in the history of aeronautics and space exploration, are there to provide you with information and tell you anecdotes. They are passionate and fascinating, so don’t hesitate to ask them! They answer your questions with enthusiasm that matches their passion.
More about the Musuem of Flight