Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Fun for the Whole Family

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Photo Credit: Smithsonian

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA is everything you would imagine a National Air and Space Museum should be. It is the sister facility to the Air and Space Museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC, which when combined, they are the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world. Visitors of all ages can enjoy viewing the various aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, and engines displayed throughout the museum, and tour guides are available to provide information about all of the historical pieces.The futuristic architecture immediately greets its patrons as they enter into the main area. As they continue through the main lobby, they pass ticket counters and information booths for featured IMAX movies as well as flight simulators. As they progress forward, the Space Shuttle Enterprise is housed in the background in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar. Walking continually forward and looking down into the open area, visitors immediately spot the majestic Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird in the Boeing Aviation Hangar. To the left are historic planes such as the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, an Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde, a prototype of the Boeing 707, and several WWII planes. To the right are modern aviation marvels such as the F-14 Tomcat, an F-4 Phantom, and a prototype of the F-35 Lightning.

The James S. McDonnell Space Hangar not only houses the Space Shuttle Enterprise, it has 152 “large” space artifacts for public viewing. Some of these include: an instrument ring segment from a Saturn V rocket, several satellites and telescopes, cruise missiles, a space shuttle main engine, and a Gemini paraglider research vehicle. Additionally, there are hundreds of smaller artifacts displayed in the hangar including space suits and a NASA-built android.

Space Shuttle Enterprise, Photo Credit: Kerri Phillips

Spectators can also visit the Donald D. Engen observation tower to get a 360 degree view of Dulles International Airport and surrounding terrain. Visitors watch as aircraft take off and land at the airport and can hear air traffic controller conversation. On the lower level of the tower, there is a complete display of air traffic control equipment. Finally, if you get hungry during your visit there is a McDonald’s and McCafe available in addition to the typical museum gift shop. If you are looking for a fun, family day trip during your visit to the Washington, DC area, do not miss visiting this historic museum.

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