The Museum of Flight

The history of flight, whether it is in or out of the Earth’s atmosphere, is a short but fascinating one that highlights the collective journey of mankind and his technology over the past 100+ years. With the dual purpose of preserving the artifacts of man’s journeys into the skies and educating current and future generations about it, the Museum of Flight is sure to impress. Located a mere 10 minutes from downtown Seattle, this one-of-a-kind air and space museum is one of the most unique places to include in your trip to the Pacific Northwest.


In the early 1960s, a small group of aerospace enthusiasts began to realize that many of the important artifacts that chronicled mankind’s journey into the skies were being destroyed. As passionate historians and educators, this group endeavored to preserve these artifacts and use them to help teach the general public about the magic of flight and its impact on our lives. In forming the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation, these men and woman took an important step in achieving just that.

Shortly after convening their organization, the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation set about finding a space in which to display the aircraft they saved. They started in a small 10,000 square foot space in Seattle Center before acquiring a lease for a spot right on the Port of Seattle from the city in 1975. In addition, the Foundation was able to acquire the “Red Barn” which was the original birthplace of Boeing. They restored and relocated it via barge to its current spot at 9404 E. Marginal Way at the Port of Seattle, opening the anchor of their new museum in 1983.

Since then, the Museum of Flight has continued to grow and thrive. It is currently the largest privately held air and space museum in the world and features more than 150 aircraft in three separate buildings. The Red Barn remains its flagship and most recognizable exhibit space, but it is dwarfed by the other two additions which are far more modern and large. The first of these is the T.A. Wilson Great Gallery (1987), which boasts more than 3,000,000 cubic feet of display area. The more recent addition is the J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing and Airpark (2004) which includes two floors with more than 88,000 square feet of exhibition space and heavily features aircraft and history from World Wars I and II. CityPass

In addition to the exhibit space, the actual aircraft on display at the Museum of Flight is nothing short of amazing. The most popular attractions include one of only four Concorde Jets outside of Europe, the first Boeing 747 that was flight-worthy, the very first jet-powered Air Force One presidential jet, a VC-137C SAM 26000, and the Space Shuttle Trainer, which was the primary training apparatus for all astronauts on the Space Shuttle.

True to its original founding principles, the Museum of Flight is a central location for avionics and aerospace education, hosting more K-12 students each year than any other air and space museum in the world. The central component of this education program is the Challenger Learning Center which opened in 1992. An interactive exhibit which allows guests to experience first-hand the details of a Space Shuttle mission, it also includes a replica of NASA’s Mission Control as well as a comprehensive overview of former and current space-based research. The Museum of Flight also hosts yearly camps, educational seminars, and family programs aimed at all ages. Their mission to truly impact the general public’s appreciation for aircraft and space flight has been enormously successful as a result.

Main Attraction

The Museum of Flight is open 7 days a week year round, only closing on Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. It keeps consistent hours throughout the year because of the enormous number of school groups that visit when school is in session.

General admission covers entrance to all permanent galleries and most special exhibits. It is divided between Adults ((18-64), Seniors (65+), and Youth (5-17); children under 4 are admitted for free. Discounts are available for active duty military personnel and their families, AAA card holders, and groups of 10 or more. There are additional costs for self-guided audio tours (available in seven languages), docent-led tours of the Space Shuttle Trainer, and flight simulator rides.

Throughout the year, the Museum of Flight will feature educational programs, lectures, classes, and camps that can last anywhere from a couple hours to a week or more. These opportunities, often related to special and guest exhibitions, allow for a more in-depth look at the worlds of air and space as well as the science and technology surrounding it.

In addition to these special events and the regular exhibits, the museum also features a full service restaurant, Wings Café, a gift shop, and archival library, the Harl V. Brackin Library.

Why It’s a Must-See

Offering guests a unique opportunity to glimpse at some of the most impressive air and space craft ever made, the Museum of Flight is a truly unique Seattle attraction. With more than 150 aircraft, three buildings, and a top-notch education center, this massive museum, only minutes from downtown Seattle, offers more than a day’s worth of activity, education, and fun.