Incredible Flying Machines

Udvar-Hazy Center

Washington, D.C. – Our trek to Maine continues with a stop I couldn’t resist: Washington, D.C.  I knew my nearly 4-year-old would love the National Air and Space Museum. The best surprise of all was when my 1-year-old’s busy brain morphed into a state of euphoric curiosity. His pointer finger was fully deployed as he ran from plane to plane grunting at strangers. And this is exactly how YOU are going to act when you set foot in the Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center. It’s an enormous hangar (and the word ‘hangar’ doesn’t come close to doing this extraordinary building justice) adjacent to Dulles International Airport.

It’s stunning. No question about it. Planes and other flying machines, parts, costumes, accoutrement are everywhere. In front of you and suspended from the ceiling. In the middle of it all, the monstrous Space Shuttle Discovery.

Rockets Activate!

Seriously, my eyes were a little misty when little ole me stood in front of that ENORMOUS space craft. Amazing. And thank you, modern technology, I pulled up Discovery’s last launch on You Tube for my explorers to watch as they stood in front of the retired shuttle. This exhibit alone was a great addition to the space foundation we started building last summer!

Discovery Time

There is one legendary aircraft after another… the Concorde, one of PanAm’s earliest passenger planes, the Enola Gay and on and on and on. There is plenty here to keep your little ones fascinated and physically engaged as well (lots of walking). I can assure you that my photographs don’t come close to showing the size of this facility.

Pan Am Airlines

An elevator takes you to the top of an observation tower that looks like an air traffic control tower. You’ll have a great view of planes coming and going from Dulles… if you can save your inner mommy from a primordial-instinct-freak-out over the cantilevered glass windows. You know, not that it happened to me or anything….

And you got to love it when the ticket price is FREE. That said prepare for sticker shock at the gift shop… and you will pay for parking as well.


  1. STEM galore (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)
  2. Inspire a love of flying
  3. History
  4. Excercise!


FOOD: Bring your lunch! The on site cafe is a McDonald’s. Seriously, it would have been way cooler to have an old-fashioned mid-flight airplane meal tray for lunch (Early Pan-Am style, not Delta Airlines style).


APP APLERT: If you haven’t downloaded an Air Traffic Control App onto your smart phone… do so! We listen to it all the time as we watch planes come and go. There are plenty to choose from, we personally use LiveATC. We use it when pretending to fly airplanes. It’s also great fun during a thunderstorm (distracts your pumpkin from loud thunder claps) as pilots talk about how to get around the storm.

One more road trip stop to come before we arrive in Maine!



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