The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located in Chantilly, VA, is one of the largest and most impressive exhibits of historic aircraft in the world. All of the planes are contained in a giant hangar-like 760,000 square foot facility. It includes over 150 aircraft of all different types, including: huge passenger planes such as the Concorde, small and agile racing planes, propeller driven fighters from WWII, to modern day jet fighters. One plane in particular, the X-35 Lightning II, is a prototype jet fighter that has not even entered service yet. I felt very privileged to see the new jet before it had entered service.
The F-14 Tomcat that had participated in the infamous 1989 Gulf of Sidra Incident, where 2 US jets shot down 2 Libyan MiG-23 Floggers, was also on display. Also included in the jets section of the museum were the F-86 Sabre, T-33A Shooting Star, F-4 Phantom, F-8 Crusader, and many others.
One of the most important aircraft at the museum is the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. It is one of only 2 planes to have used the atomic bomb in combat. The other WWII planes include: the P-47, P-38, FW-190, Me-163, Ar-234 (the only surviving aircraft of its kind), Hurricane, F6F, P-26, OS2U, and several more, some of which can only be seen at the museum because no others have survived.
I’ve had the privilege to visit this museum twice with the most recent visit during our family vacation in May. I really wanted to go back again to see the largest collection of historical aircraft in the US since I missed so much on my first visit! No matter what kind of aircraft you are interested in, the Udvar-Hazy Center is for you. Even with no interest in airplanes, the massive spectacle of many giant planes will make anyone’s day!