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Travel to the National Air and Space Museum

By Guest Author Peggy Bradshaw; Photos by George Bradshaw

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM) maintains the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world. Located in Washington, DC on the National Mall, it also has a companion facility at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles Airport at Chantilly, VA.

The space shuttle Enterprise is housed at the Udvar-Hazy Center, as is one of Amelia Earhart’s planes.

The NASM holds in trust some 50,000 objects, including air craft, space craft, engines, rockets, uniforms, space suits, balloons and artwork. The Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer is on display with related artifacts. A whole section is dedicated to the Wright Brothers with original and replica flying machines.


Charles Lindberghs Spirit of St. Louis

Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis

Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis from his 1927 flight is suspended from the ceiling of the National Mall building, along with the Bell X-1 (Glamorous Glennis) flown by Chuck Yeager when he broke the sound barrier. Planes from both World Wars, including uniforms and equipment, depict the United States at war.


Chuck Yeagers sound barrier-breaking Bell X-1 Glamourous Glennis

Chuck Yeager's sound barrier-breaking Bell X-1 "Glamorous Glennis"

The space race and moon exploration are shown in scenes with the space suits worn by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, plus a Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), duplicate of the one still sitting on the moon. Other milestones of space flight on display include the Mercury Friendship 7 and the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia. As you enter the front door of the museum, you encounter a touchable moon rock and millions of fingers have stroked it in wonder and awe.NASM also has a large archive of historic manuscripts, photographs, films and documents. To tour the entire facility takes the better part of a day and a lot of walking. Divided up into historic groups, areas and eras, the Museum has full size aircraft and space craft, plus miniature and cutaway models. The photographs and documents on the walls and panels are well worth stopping to view and read.


The history of aviation in the United States is contained within these walls and the hangars at Dulles. For anyone interested in history and aviation, both sites are essential to view and tour.

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