National Air and Space Museum

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kwasiak on January 16, 2006

The National Air and Space Museum is located on the National Mall. The closest metro station is L'Enfant Plaza, which is located on the Blue and Orange Lines. You can also use the Smithsonian station, which runs on the same lines. The museum is open every day, except Christmas, from 10am to 5:30pm.

The National Air and Space Museum is not only the most popular Smithsonian Museum, but also the most visited museum in the whole world. You can enter the building from either Independence Avenue or the National Mall. The first exhibit you will encounter no matter which way you enter is the Milestones of Flight exhibit. There are a variety of aircrafts displayed from the ceiling in this exhibit. Just two of the aircrafts are Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis and Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne, which is the first privately owned spacecraft to be flown over 62 miles in altitude twice in two weeks.

The museum is divided into two wings. The west wing of the building contains exhibits relating to airplanes on two floors, with the exception of the Exploring the Planets exhibit on the 2nd floor of the West Wing. The east wing of the building contains mostly exhibits relating to space travel on two floors, but also has a couple of the aviation related exhibits, such a The Wright Brother’s Exhibition that is on display on the 2nd floor of the East Wing until October 17, 2006, at which time the plane will be placed back in the Milestones of Flight exhibit. On the first floor of the East Wing you will also find a food court that services Boston Market, McDonalds, Donatos, and McTreats.

The airplane related exhibits that are found in the West Wing are Golden Age of Flight, Jet Aviation, Interactive Flight Simulator Rides, and Early Flight on the 1st Floor and Sea-Air Operations; World War II Aviation; Legend, Memory, and the Great War in the Air, and Pioneers of Flight. Out of all the aviations exhibits I found the Golden Age of Flight the most interesting mostly because it contained the Polar Star, which was the first plane to do a Trans-Antarctic flight. I also found the Legend, Memory, and the Great War in the Air exhibit interesting as it gave the history of the first war that airplanes played a role in.

The space related exhibits found in the East Wing are Looking at Earth, Explore the Universe, Rocketry and Space Flight, and Space Race on the 1st Floor and Apollo to the Moon, Flight and the Arts, and Beyond the Limits on the 2nd Floor. My favorite space related exhibit was the Space Race exhibit, as it was interesting to learn the different ways the U.S. and Russia raced to be the first to do things in space, as well as to see actually models of the related spacecrafts.
Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
Independence Avenue At 4th Street SW
Washington, DC

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