AAA Editor Notes
National Air and Space Museum is on the National Mall at 6th St. and Independence Ave. S.W. One of Washington's most popular museums is part of the Smithsonian; it presents the history, science and technology of air and space flight.
More than 20 galleries document major air and space achievements both historical and technological. In the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall, visitors can touch a moon rock and view such historically important items as Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, Chuck Yeager's Bell X-1 Glamorous Glennis, John Glenn’s spacecraft Friendship 7, a Viking Mars Lander and SpaceShipOne, the first privately built, piloted spacecraft to reach space. The Wright brothers' 1903 Flyer is on view in the second-floor exhibition titled The Wright Brothers & The Invention of the Aerial Age.
Take your pick of subjects from the early pioneers of flight, jet aviation, lunar and planetary exploration, rocketry and military aircraft to commercial aviation, time and navigation, and aerial imaging. The How Things Fly gallery explains the principles of flight via hands-on activities for children, live demonstrations and interactive stations. Space Race chronicles the jockeying between the United States and the former Soviet Union to be the first nation to explore space.
On the second floor is Time and Navigation, where a timeline shows the progress of clocks and time-measuring devices from a weight-driven mechanical clock circa 1280 to a chip-size atomic clock, which became commercially available in 2011. Other exhibitions include the evolution of radio navigation equipment and the history of GPS systems.
Various immersive flight simulator experiences offer the vicarious thrill of space travel. IMAX films are shown on a five-story screen in the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater and multimedia shows are presented in the Albert Einstein Planetarium.
Note: Gallery renovations will occur in stages, with the first reopening in 2022; the museum remains open.
Guided tours are available. Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.