The world is full of aviation enthusiasts, affectionately known as #avgeeks, who love to visit any spots aviation related as part of their vacation plans. But you don't need to be a hard-core aviation enthusiast to include these places on your next vacation. With National Aviation Day coming up on August 19, below are seven aviation-related places that are fun for everyone.
Where else in the world can you see a Boeing 727 -- in the United Airlines livery -- hanging over your head? Only at the Museum of Science & Industries' Transportation Gallery, where the tri-engine jet hangs in the East Court Hall. Visitors can climb inside the 727, which features hands-on activities and interactive displays. Volunteer United pilots are on hand to help explain how the jet works, share their experiences on the job and offer advice on aviation careers. The museum's displays also feature an iconic 1917 Curtiss JN-4D, known as the Jenny, a 1928 Boeing 40B used as a mail transport plane and a 1930 Texaco TravelAir Model R Racer. Don't forget to check out the museum's Flight and Ride simulators.
Los Angeles, California
Have you ever wanted to experience what it was like to fly during the golden age of travel? Now you can find out, thanks to Air Hollywood, a company that creates realistic aircraft interiors and props for the film industry. The company offers the Pan Am Dining Experience, where guests board a replica of the airline's Boeing 747. Each customer receives a 1970s-style boarding pass, ticket jacket and first class carry-on tags and can tour the Clipper Club, featuring vintage Pan Am memorabilia. Passengers board the Clipper Juan T. Trippe, where they are greeted by stewardesses wearing original Pan Am uniforms serving cocktails. A stewardess then prepares the cabin for a gourmet five-course dinner. After dinner, guests can take a tour of Air Hollywood's production sets.
Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina
Fly into Virginia's Norfolk International Airport and drive for two hours to this city in North Carolina's Outer Banks to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial. The site, managed by the National Park Service, is where the Wright Brothers flew the first successful powered heavier-than-air aircraft flight on Dec. 17, 1903. Among the many things to do at the memorial are visiting the site where the Wright Brothers first took off and landed, the reconstructed camp where they lived during flight testing, the large marble memorial that offers stunning views of the site, a bookstore for souvenirs and the Visitors Center, where Park Service rangers offer tours and information. If you want to get in some beach time, there is one nearby the memorial and Cape Hatteras National Seashore is only 10 miles away.
The Pima Air & Space Museum, number seven on CNN Travel's list, is located on 80 acres and serves as home to more than 300 aircraft, ranging from a replica of the Wright Flyer to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It's also home to an impressive 2,600-acre boneyard, where U.S. military and government planes sit after being retired. The main hangar features exhibits on topics such as Seaplanes and Amphibians, Aircraft Carriers and Aerial Reconnaissance. There is also the Joyce M. Corrigan Women in Flight Gallery, which puts the spotlight on female aerial achievements from the 1700s to the present.
Palm Springs, California
The Palm Springs Air Museum, number 14 on CNN Travel's list of the 14 Best Aviation Museums, focuses on military aviation during World War II, the Korean and the Vietnam wars with stellar exhibits of static and flyable aircraft. The Major Gen. Ken Miles Hangar houses aircraft from the Korean and Vietnam wars including a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and a Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler. Visitors can also see the museum's maintenance and restoration facility and participate in educational programs. You can't leave without taking a ride in the museum's C-47 Skytrain or a P-51 Mustang flown by the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II.
It is no surprise to #avgeeks that both Smithsonian Air & Space Museums -- the downtown location and the The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center next to Washington Dulles International Airport -- were number one on the CNN Travel List. Both museums feature IMAX theaters and flight simulators.
The downtown museum, made up of 22 galleries, features the Glamorous Glennis, the Bell X-1 rocket engine-powered used by Gen. Chuck Yeager to break the sound barrier, the Mercury Friendship 7 capsule, the Lockheed Vega flown by Amelia Earhart in 1932 in the first solo trans-Atlantic flight by a woman and the Spirit of St. Louis flown by Charles Lindberg. The Dulles museum has an Air France Concorde, the Space Shuttle Discovery, the Enola Gay, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress used to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima Japan and the Boeing Dash 80, which would become the 707, the plane that launched the jet age. Both museums are large, so plan to spend at least a day at each.
The Emerald City is not only the home of Boeing, but also to the Museum of Flight, the largest independent, non-profit air and space museum in the world and number four on CNN Travel's list. Try your hand at flying a drone, catch an aviation- or space-themed flick at the 3D Movie Theater or see if you have the skills to become a pilot during a one-hour course that ends with a simulator ride. The Aviation Pavilion is home to 19 commercial and military aircraft including the first Boeing 727, 737 and 747 jets and the first Air Force One jet.