Aviation and space museums offer a lot more than just aircraft exhibits. Most of them are dedicated to a specific war or branch of the military, so they are not only places to go to learn, but they are a lot of fun as well. If you have any type of interest in space or airplanes, you owe it to yourself to visit one of these aviation museums in Virginia.
Table of Contents
Just like most other states, Virginia has something to brag about when it comes to aviation and space. The state is home to several major airports, as well as the aircraft manufacturer Dynamic Aviation. David M. Brown from Arlington was an astronaut who flew the STS-107 mission, and Polar aviator Richard E. Byrd was also from Virginia.
The Washington, D.C. airports – Dulles and Reagan – are physically located in Virginia as well, and the first NASA facility – then known as NACA – was established at Langley Field in 1920. In 1908, the first Wright flyer was delivered by Orville Wright himself to Fort Myer, so as you can see, Virginia can stand proud when it comes to its aviation firsts.
If you’re interested in researching the aviation museums located in the state, keep reading because the following list can provide you with the information you need to proceed.
1. Flying Circus Airshow and Aerodrome (Bealeton)
Open on Saturday and Sunday from May to October, the museum offers air shows every Sunday that it’s open and is home to dozens of aircraft. These include the Piper J-3C-65 Cub, Fleet models 2 and 7, WACO UPF, Boeing Stearman N2S-1 Kaydet, and the Giles 202, among others. You can contact them online at www.flyingcircusairshow.com or by calling them at 540-439-8661.
2. National D-Day Museum (Bedford)
Open daily most days of the year, the museum is a testament to one of the most important days in American history. It not only houses the Aeronca L-3B Grasshopper but is located in Bedford because this is where most of the casualties were from on June 6, 1944. If you’re interested in this piece of history, you owe it to yourself to visit this museum and will not be disappointed. You can contact the museum at www.dday.org for additional information.
3. National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Chantilly)
Open daily most days of the year and free to visit, this museum houses dozens of aircraft that include the Learjet 23, Lockheed T-33A, Fulton Airphibian FA-3-101, Apollo 11 space capsule, and the Sikorsky JRS-1, among many others. You can get additional details on everything they offer by visiting their website at http://airandspace.si.edu/udvar-hazy-center.
4. American Armored Foundation Tank Museum (Danville)
This museum is open on different days depending on the season, but it is usually closed Sunday through Wednesday and on various holidays. There is a fee to enter and even a gift shop in case you’re interested in getting a few souvenirs before you head home. It has a Bell AH-1S Cobra on display, and you can get additional information on their exhibits and artifacts by visiting their website at www.aaftankmuseum.com.
5. U.S. Army Transportation Museum (Fort Eustis)
Open Tuesday through Monday, the museum is located at Fort Eustis so you’ll need to get a visitor’s pass from the Guard House before entering the facility. There are dozens of aircraft on display there, and these include the Sikorsky VH-34C Choctaw, Hughes TH-55A Osage, Bell Jet Flying Belt, and the Curtiss-Wright Gem, among others. If you need additional information, you can visit their website at www.transchool.lee.army.mil/Museum/Transportation%20Museum/museum.htm or call them at 757-878-1115.
6. Air Power Park (Hampton)
This park is open daily throughout most of the year and is free to enter and visit. Their aircraft include rockets such as the Nike Hercules SAM, Javelin sounding rocket, and the Mercury capsule, as well as planes such as the Lockheed T-33A, Republic F-105D Thunderchief, Hawker XV-6A Kestrel, and the Northrop F-89J Scorpion, to name a few. They can be contacted at www.visithampton.com/play/listing/air-power-park/ or by calling 757-726-0650.
7. Virginia Air and Space Center (Hampton)
Open on different days depending on the season, the facility is located on the banks of the Hampton River near marinas and piers, making it a site that is both interesting and aesthetically appealing. Included in the exhibits is the Apollo 12 command module, Pitts S-1S Special, Lunar Orbiter, Viking Lander, and the nose of the Consolidated B-24D Liberator, among others. There is also a gift shop in case you’re interested in taking home some souvenirs, and you can get additional information by contacting them at 757-727-0900.
8. Nauticus (Norfolk)
This facility is open on different days depending on the season, and there is a great gift shop to accommodate visitors who want to take home that perfect souvenir at the end of the day. The aircraft exhibits include the Pioneer UAV system and the Douglas A4D-5 Skyhawk, and if you contact them at 757-664-1000, you can get additional details on everything included inside the facility. You can also visit them online at www.nauticus.org.
9. Science Museum of Virginia (Richmond)
Open every day except Monday, and daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the museum has a great gift shop and is home to aircraft such as the Piper J-3C-65 Cub, Eipper MX Quicksilver, American Aerolights Eagle, Wright 1902 glider, and the Solar Challenger, among others. You can visit them online at www.smv.org or by calling them at 804-864-1400. There is a small admission fee to see this museum.
10. Virginia Aviation Museum (Richmond IAP)
Although the museum is permanently closed, it once housed dozens of aircraft, including the Fairchild 24G, Brunner-Winkle Bird A, Douglas A-4C Skyhawk, and the Travel Air 2000, among others. It also held replicas of the Wright 1889 kite and the Wright 1900 glider.
11. Virginia Museum of Aviation (Roanoke)
Open daily most days of the year, this museum offers artifacts such as a hang glider, hot air balloon, gyrocopter, and two experimental planes, as well as dozens of photographs and other items. They also have plans to add a U.S. Army Cobra helicopter and an interactive cockpit model to make your visit even more interesting.
12. National Museum of the Marine Corps (Triangle)
Free to the public and open daily most of the year, the museum houses aircraft such as the Sikorsky UH-34D, Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat, McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A Hornet, and the Bell UH-1E Iroquois, to name a few. You can get additional information on the facility via their website at www.usmcmuseum.com.
13. Military Aviation Museum (Virginia Beach)
The museum is free to visit and open daily most days of the year. It is also home to dozens of aircraft, including the Hawker Hurricane IIB, Goodyear FG-1D Corsair, Wright Model B, and the Stinson L-5E Sentinel, among others. You can visit them online at www.militaryaviationmuseum.org.
14. NAS Oceana Aviation Historical Park (Virginia Beach)
Located at the Oceana Naval Air Station, the facility houses aircraft such as the North American FJ-3M Fury, Grumman F-11A Tiger, Douglas A-4E Skyhawk, and the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A Hornet, to name a few. If you’re interested in U.S. Naval aviation history, this is one museum you shouldn’t overlook.
15. NASA Wallops Visitor Center (Wallops Island)
This facility is open Monday through Friday and shows you why this area was so important when it came to viewing rocket launches. You can visit them for free, and there is even a gift shop for those who want to take a little piece of the museum back home with them.