After flying into Washington D.C. yesterday, I could hardly wait to visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum at the National Mall.
The downtown museum houses only a fraction of the Smithsonian collection, with much more on display at the Steven F. Udar-Hazy Center located near Dulles International Airport. Unfortunately, the Udar-Hazy Center cannot be reached efficiently by public transportation, so this report covers only the downtown site.
As many museums in America, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum caters to both kids and adults. It presents a well-balanced mix of historic artifacts and information for adults, as well as many interesting and educational activities for kids. Admission is free.
Artifacts on display include historic aircraft such as Amelia Earhart's Lockheed 5B Vega, a Douglas DC-3, a captured ME-62 (one of the first jet aircrafts), and many many more. Well-designed information panels educate visitors about the exhibits, and also provide a fascinating view into the early days of aviation and the first airlines emerging from the national airmail system. Stewardess and pilot uniforms from various ages (donated by their former owners) give the museum a very personal touch.
The museum also features a rather large store, offering a wide range of merchandise from interesting books about all areas of aviation, Washington D.C. souvenirs, aircraft models and kid's toys, all the way to such mundane items as nail polish. Proceeds from the shop directly support the Smithsonian.
I've really enjoyed my visit, and can highly recommend it to any aviation enthusiast.