California is known for a lot more than just beaches, mountains, and that posh lifestyle.
It's a hub for tech innovation and always has been. Aviation is a big part of the state, so naturally there are plenty of activities and museums dedicated to aviation history and future.
After all, Emilia Earhart lived in North Hollywood, Elon Musk is currently testing and flying his rockets in Hawthorne, Boing is hiring engineers in Long Beach, and JPL's Voyager flew to the far edge of Solar System from La Canada Flintridge. Given all that, naturally, people look at the clear blue skies while in California.
If you happen to visit the state or live here, you are blessed with multiple choices for places of interest that are connected with aviation one way or another. So put on your aviators and visit these 6 amazing museums, especially since National Aviation Day on August 19th is coming soon:
This museum is not very big, but it is located in a very strategic location – west side of John Wayne Airport in Orange County. Martin Aviation is located there too, so you are definitely going to be entertained and informed. The museum features retired aircraft and vintage vehicles with the focus on WWII. Expositions and artifacts are all meant to tell a story of how United States helped shape today's world.
The museum was established by war vet General William Lyon, who after WWII became a successful businessman, but never abandoned his passion for the skies.
You will find this museum in Downey on an old NASA site. The artifacts date all the way to 1930's with focus on STEM activities.
You can see a real astronaut suit from NASA's Space Shuttle Program and Apollo Boilerplate 12, which was tested in New Mexico's White Sands Missile Range in 1964. Kids and adults can enjoy the only public robotics lab in L.A. and learn some basics about robot building and programing with LEGO EV3 robots. There is also a 25 foot tall tower for testing the landing capabilities of your craft. Rocket launcher and Gravity Well illustrate some principles via hands on experiments.
This museum in Santa Monica has long roots in the community and includes many vintage aircraft. The main focus, like of most air museums, is on WWII flying machines and artifacts. Next to old planes, you will also see modern technology and automobiles from days past.
The space is very popular as a venue for receptions, celebratory dinners, corporate parties, fundraisers, galas for charity, and various other events. There are also group tours and flight simulators available.
While this museum has many exciting parts and exhibits, none draws people quite like the Endeavor does. A new facility is even being built for the aircraft to be stored indefinitely. The entire city came together to cheer the flight of this vessel from LAX to the California Science Center, where it is now located.
The museum covers our past and our future with its permanent exhibits and various special events. Exhibitions include World of Life, Creative World of technology, Ecosystems, Space Shuttle Endeavor, Air and Space Exhibits, and IMAX Theater. There is even a Science Center School on the grounds and professional development programs for teachers.
This museum is s true gem because besides just viewing vintage planes, you can also witness them fly. The aircraft in the fleet are as old as 60 years and have been maintained with precision and love. The museum houses about 160 aircraft that start with the replica of Wright Brothers 1903 Kitty Hawk Flyer and continue with emphasis of WWII warbirds that are still frequently flown today. That is living history in action and you won't find it often.
The museum also has military vehicles, such as M4A1 Sherman Tank, 1941 WC-54 Dodge Ambulance, and GMC CCKW "Deuce". All the vehicles are operational and are frequently used for movies, commercials, and featured in public events and shows.
This museum is close to Sacramento and features 30,000 sq. feet space filled with military and civilian planes, engines, NASA exhibit, and flight simulators. Outside the hangar you will see 35 planes lined up and ready for your attention. Besides WWII war machines, you will find the legendary Top Gun F-14 Tomcat and US Navy’s Blue Angels fighter.
The museum is a must visit for plane enthusiasts young and old with its exhibits and flight simulator, which is a kid magnet for sure.