Best Space & Aviation Museums Around the World

From first flights to jet planes and spaceships, aviation museums offer us a glimpse into the history of flight and showcase authentic flying machines from different eras. They demonstrate the achievements of pilots and awe-inspiring creations of engineers and aircraft designers. If you are as passionate about aviation and space travel as we are considering visiting one of the top 10 museums in the world.

Best Aerospace & Aviation Museums

A number of aviation museums and airparks, located across the world, provide excellent historical aviation and warbird overviews. We are currently offering personal reviews and highlights of several renowned aerospace museums which we have been to and fully recommend. Our overview includes the highlights of air exhibits and planes on display, history of the aviation museum, photographs, how to visit, and maps.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is the oldest military aviation museum in the world featuring a vast collection of one-of-the-kind aircraft. It has over 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles available on display. Explore the museum galleries to learn about present-day military aviation history and see actual aircraft, engines, weapons, and more. In addition to offering the visitors the opportunity to see all those aviation artifacts up close, the museum also displays different memorabilia that bring the history of human flight to life. The museum has a range of educational programs for visitors of all ages, such as scavenger hunts, lectures, workshops, etc.

Main entrance, National Museum of the United States Air Force (staff photo)

Aircraft on Display

The list of vintage planes on display is extensive, and the following is a small list of highlights:

B-29-36-MO Superfortress 44-27297, Bockscar
B-29-36-MO Superfortress 44-27297, Bockscar (staff photo
  • A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog”
  • B-2 Spirit Bomber
  • B-50 Superfortress
  • Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress “Bockscar”
  • Boeing B-47 Stratojet
  • Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
  • Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker
  • C-124 Globemaster
  • C-47 Skytrain
  • Consolidated B-24 Liberator
  • Convair B-36 Peacemaker
  • Convair B-58 Hustler
  • Convair F-102 Delta Dagger
  • Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar
  • KC-97
  • Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star
  • Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
  • McDonnell F-101 Voodoo
  • McDonnell F-4 Phantom II
  • North American B-25 Mitchell
  • North American F-100 Super Sabre
  • North American F-86 Sabre
  • Northrup F-89 Scorpion
  • Republic F-105 Thunderchief
  • Republic F-84F Thunderstreak
  • and many others

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

Located in the capital of the U.S., The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum houses the largest and the most remarkable collection of unique artifacts related to the history of aviation and space exploration on the globe. Thousands of historical artifacts and other exhibits help connect the legacy of Wright brothers with the contemporary aircraft complete with advanced technology and electronics of today. Here visitors can see exhibitions devoted to different aspects of human flight, along with works of art and archival documents. Since 1976 the museum has been educating people about the history of aviation. No wonder that it is one of the most popular aviation museums in the world.

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Kansas Aviation Museum

The best aviation museum in the Midwestern United States is Kansas Aviation Museum housed in Works Progress Administration. This strikingly beautiful building used to be the airport terminal in the middle of the 20th century. The museum that chronicles the development of general aviation in Kansas features a fantastic collection of aircraft and aviation-related artifacts. You can see larger planes displayed outside the museum building.

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum

Canada has a rich history of aviation and space travel. The country’s premier national aviation history museum located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, near the Ottawa/Rockcliffe Airport welcomes the visitors to experience the wonder of flight. The museum showcases a spectacular collection of planes from different periods of aviation history, from 1909 to today’s innovations and breakthroughs. The museum covers aerospace technology and space flight as well. The collection contains lots of artifacts related to aviation achievements of Canada along with various flight simulators, and several interactive exhibits that focus on aviation development at the international perspective. Also, the museum offers multiple educational programs and activities for the younger visitors engaging them to learn more about Canada’s contribution to the development of international aviation. Visitors of all ages are sure to find something they would be interested in. There is plenty of what to see and to do in the top aviation museum of the country.

The Pima Air & Space Museum

Want to see the first flying machines and luxury presidential planes? Then consider visiting the Prima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. Occupying the territory of 80 acres, the Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the world’s biggest aviation museums not funded by the government. It boasts an impressive collection of historical planes that includes everything from artifacts that date back to the era of Wright brothers and the historic WWII military planes to presidential aircraft. Operating in Tucson since1976 the museum has six indoor hangars housing more than 350 planes many of which visitors can see up close. Visitors can take guided walking tours or ground Tram Tours available daily except weekends. Dozens of other airplanes are positioned outdoors on the desert floor. A partial list of the airplanes is as follows:

  • B-36 Peacemaker
  • B-47 Stratojet
  • B-52 Stratofortress
  • B-58 Hustler
  • Boeing VC-137B, “Freedom One”
  • C-117B Super Gooneybird
  • C-119 Flying Boxcar
  • C-124 Globemaster
  • C-133 Cargomaster
  • C-141 Starlifter
  • C-54 Liftmaster
  • F-100 Super Sabre
  • F-106 Delta Dart
  • F-84F Thunderstreak
  • F-86 Sabre
  • Lockheed F-94 Starfire
  • T-29B Flying Classroom
  • TF-102 Delta Dagger
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Paris Air and Space Museum

France also has award-winning museums worth visiting. Located just north of Paris the Museum of Air and Space sprawls across 150,000 square meters. It is one of the finest and oldest museums devoted to air and space travel in the world showcasing a variety of historic and contemporary aircraft. The museum collection includes over 400 aircraft that span the history of aviation from the first airplanes and early pioneers to the modern Concorde. This world-class museum is considered to be the cradle of commercial aviation. Today it also boasts unique Art Deco architecture in the terminal building.

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

For everyone passionate about the military and maritime history visiting the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City is a must. Here you will be able to see a world’s famous collection of ships. Only in this museum can you see legendary aircraft carrier, high-speed jets, the first space shuttle, and even a submarine operated during the Cold War.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

The museum galleries of the San Diego Air & Space Museum showcase exhibits that focus on the role of San Diego in the development of aviation. In 1978 the fire destroyed the Electrical Building and the Museum. Some different planes, including the Beecraft Wee Bee which was the lightest aircraft in the world, got damaged so much that they could never be restored.

Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour

The Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour aviation museum and education center located in Mukilteo, Washington, features a 28,000-square-foot gallery where visitors can see several displays along with remarkable exhibits. After the tour, the visitors can have a snack in the on-site café and buy souvenirs in the shops of the museum. The museum also features a small theater. This is a small list of highlights of airplanes on display:

  • Boeing 727-022
  • Boeing 737-130
  • Boeing 747-121
  • Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
  • Boeing B-29 Superfortress “T-Square 54”
  • Boeing WB-47E Stratojet
  • Concord SST
  • Douglas DC-3
  • F-104 Starfighter
  • F-14A Tomcat
  • M-21 Blackbird
  • McDonnell F-4 Phantom II
  • P-38 Lightning
  • P-51 Mustang
  • Soyuz Space Capsule
  • VC-121B Air Force One

The Yorkshire Air Museum

When in the U.K., make sure you visit the Yorkshire Air Museum. This is a great family-friendly attraction that was awarded “Certificate of Excellence” by TripAdvisor. The museum is located on the World War II airfield where allied planes landed and took off during the war. Only here will you see and explore the famous Second World War RAF Bomber Command station. By the way, the museum is also the Allied Air Forces Memorial, the only one in Europe.

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