By day, the streamlined edifice looks like any other structure in the park; at night, outlined in blue neon, the round building appears—appropriately enough—to be a landed UFO. Every available inch of space in the rotunda is filled with exhibits about aviation and aerospace pioneers, including examples of enemy planes from the world wars. In all, there are more than 60 full-size aircraft on the floor and hanging from the rafters. In addition to exhibits from the dawn
of flight to the jet age, the museum displays a growing number of space-age exhibits, including the actual Apollo 9 command module. To test your own skills, you can ride in a two-seat Max Flight simulator or try out the F-35 interactive simulator. Movies at the new 3D/4D theater are included with admission.
2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, California, 92101, United States
Jan 16, 2005
San Diego has more of a reputation for things nautical than aerospace. So, it was a pleasant surprise to find this museum! Inside the wondererful Walter Dorwin Teague designed building is an excellent display of all the eras of flight-from the Wright Brothers (there is a Wright flyer simulator) to the Apollo 9 spacecraft. The museum not only displays planes, but engines as well. In addition, there are exhibits about a variety of topics inluding one
on women in flight careers. There are some rare planes at the front entrance-an experimental sea plane jet fighter, the only one built, and an SR-71 Blackbird. Balboa Park is a collection of museums, and on Tuesday, on a rotating basis, admission to some of the museums is free, a truly generous custom. While not nearly as big as the USAF Museum in Dayton, OH or the Smithsonian exhibits in Washington, this is a remarkably good museum. If you like things aeronautical, make it a part of your San Diego visit.