At the Great Gallery, history is in the air. Twenty-three aircraft hang from the ceiling of the Museum of Flight’s six-story steel-and-glass exhibit hall. Visitors crane their necks to see a 1941 Fairchild F-24W, a touring plane once owned by ventriloquist Edgar Bergen; a 1959 Lockheed F-104C Starfighter, a 1,000 mph plane pilots nicknamed "the Missile with a Man in It"; and a 1998 Insitu Aerosonde, a drone designed to fly without a pilot and collect weather data. Another 19 flying machines sit on the floor, perpetually poised for takeoff. You can imagine that if fingers flipped cockpit toggles, the engines would roar again. (206) 764-5720, www.museumofflight.org.
Howard Hughes’s Spruce Goose and the world’s fastest jet, the 2,193 mph SR-71 Blackbird, star at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Ore. AAA members save $1 on entry. (503) 434-4180, www.sprucegoose.org.
Can’t get there? Here’s another
Leonardo da Vinci designed the air screw, an early version of the helicopter, 500 years ago. View a model of it and other Leonardo marvels at the PALM SPRINGS AIR MUSEUM November 3 to March 24. (760) 778-6262, www.air-museum.org.
Photography by Lara Swimmer
This article was first published in November 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.