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Jeff B. | profile | all galleries >> Northwest Bucket List >> Museum of Flight tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Museum of Flight

Seattle, WA

The Museum of Flight is the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world! With over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, tens of thousands of artifacts, millions of rare photographs, dozens of exhibits and experiences and a world-class library, the Museum and its people bring mankind's incredible history of flight to life.

In 1964 a small group of aviation enthusiasts realized that important and historic artifacts representing the evolution of flight were being lost or destroyed at an incredible rate. To aid in the preservation of these artifacts, the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation was established with the goal of saving significant aircraft and related artifacts to educate the public about their importance.

It soon became clear that a place to store and exhibit these artifacts was needed, and in 1965 the first official Museum of Flight exhibits were put on display in a 10,000 square-foot space at the Seattle Center, the location of the 1962 World’s Fair.

The concept for The Museum of Flight complex began to take in 1975 when the Port of Seattle leased the land on which the Boeing Red Barn now sits to the Museum for 99 years. The Red Barn, the birthplace of The Boeing Company, was saved from demolition in its original location on the Duwamish River and floated by river barge to its current location. The Red Barn was restored in 1983 and became the first permanent location for The Museum of Flight.

The Red Barn was eventually joined by the Great Gallery in 1987, the Library and Archives Building in 2002 and the J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing and Airpark in 2004.

Seattle's Museum of Flight was disappointed that it wasn't awarded one of the three real Space Shuttles. It didn't even land the prototype Enterprise, which wound up in New York City. In hindsight, however, it did just fine.

What the museum did get was the full-size wooden "Space Shuttle Trainer," used by NASA to train every space shuttle astronaut. It looks kind of like a Space Shuttle (minus the wings). Its real advantage is that unlike the real Shuttles -- which are are sacred look-but-don't-touch exhibits -- the Space Shuttle Trainer is allowed to be inhabited by everyday tourist humans.

The museum exhibits the Shuttle Trainer in a pitch-black room with its cargo bay doors open and a satellite floating just outside it. Everyone is invited to stomp around inside the cargo bay -- but for an extra fee you can climb into the crew compartment and flight deck and really feel like a Shuttle astronaut, minus the zero gravity.
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