The museum’s expansive collection of replicas and real models is one of its defining aspects. When you visit the museum, you’ll get to learn more about the work that went into creating these aircrafts, the jobs they’re used to perform, and the way they have allowed scientists and explorers to learn more about the world around us.
Aircraft and Spacecraft Collection
The mainstay of the Air and Space Museum San Diego is its vast collection of aircraft and spacecraft. Visitors can spend well over an entire day walking the property and learning more about a range of historical aircraft. Highlights include a reproduction of the 1901 Wright Glider, a Bowlus BA-100, and a mock-up of the Gemini spacecraft.
The models on display around the museum are either replicas that have been carefully recreated to be as authentic as possible, or genuine aircraft that have been painstakingly restored to their original glory. Either way, the opportunity to see them for yourself is well worth the cost of admission.
The museum has a large collection of aviation-related artifacts in addition to its many aircraft. Visitors can learn more about original flight attendant uniforms from Trans World Airline (TWA), find replicas of the Messerschmitt Bf 109K Panel made popular during the Spanish Civil War, or see a Thompson Trophy from the 1929 National Air Races.
In 2006 the Museum acquired the Low Speed Wind Tunnel near Lindbergh Field, where companies and individuals test their equipment and students can study aerodynamics. Don't miss it!
International Air & Space Hall of Fame
Throughout history, people like the Wright Brothers and Neil Armstrong have made huge strides in what aviation means for the world and the galaxy beyond. The International Air and Space Hall of Fame recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of such people and aims to teach the aerospace leaders of tomorrow about the paths they and others before them have followed.
When you visit the International Air & Space Hall of Fame, you’ll see the photos and bios of dozens of people who have been instrumental to the development of aerospace engineering and piloting. You’ll also learn about people who contributed to scientific discoveries in the aerospace field.
Media lovers can spend hours perusing the museum's media library. It houses more than two million historical images of aircraft, equipment, events, and people related to the aviation industry, including prints and negatives. These images are provided for research and to pique the interest of any visitors who may want to extend their knowledge past what many of the floor exhibits have to offer.
The media collection also includes film and audio archives. Here, you can find over 5,000 audio tapes, video tapes, DVs, phonographs, and much more. Many rare historic films and videos are in the process of being digitized by museum staff.
World War I Gallery
Aircraft played a huge role in the first World War. Learn about famous pilots like the Red Baron and Billy Bishop, as well as the planes they piloted.
World War II Gallery
In the World War II Gallery, you’ll find all sorts of different planes that were used during the war. These planes conjure up images of daring dogfights and stealthy reconnaissance as you walk through the hall and look at the museum’s Spitfire, Hellcat, Japanese Zero, Warhawk, and many more.
Modern Jet and Space Age Gallery
This exhibit showcases rockets and other spacecraft of the modern age. Check out reproductions of the historic Apollo and Gemini ships, and learn the unique discoveries and challenges of exploring space in recent years.
Golden Age of Flight Gallery
The “Golden Age” of aviation occurred from about 1919-1939. During this period, trick fliers traveled across the country showing off their skills and inspiring the next generation of pilots. Learn about some of these aviators and their planes in this exhibit.
Simulators and Interactive Areas
Interactive experiences are available at the museum as well. Step onto the Max Flight Interactive Ride to experience a two-seat FS2000 flight simulator that includes sky loops, aerial combat, and sharp banks in its 360-degree, pilot-controlled experience. Other interactive exhibits include the Aerial Combat Experience and a 3D/4D theater that includes seats synchronized to what's happening on the screen.
Visitors who have a special interest in a particular sector of aviation may find themselves engrossed in the museum's special exhibits. Exhibits change regularly and have included such displays as American Women in Flight, which paid tribute to people such as Sally Ride, and SPACE: Our Greatest Adventure, a special program exploring the stars.