DC Explorer: National Air and Space Museum

American Nomad Traveler is taking flight with a trip to The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. One of the most visited museums in the world, it offers an out of this world experience allowing hands on learning and exhibits on aviation, space flight, astronomy, geology and to infinity and beyond.

I first visited the museum as a child in the 1980s. I remember my dad buying a holographic stamp with the National Air and Space Museum logo. That day is still etched in my mind – as a five year old, wide eyed and open to exploring this world and beyond.

The National Air and Space Museum speaks to our human curiosity to explore the great beyond and contemplate the stars. In this modern world we take air travel for granted, but it was just over 100 years ago when The Wright Brothers flew for the first time at Kitty Hawk NC (I’m from NC and we are proud to be ‘First in Flight’)…At the National Air and Space Museum, you get a front seat to learning and exploring about the history of aviation from seeing the original Wright Flyer to the Apollo 11 Command Module that landed on the moon in 1969!

Fun facts:

  • The National Air and Space Museum was
  • Home to the original Wright Flyer of 1903
    • First powered airplane to demonstrate sustained flight under the full control of the pilot
    • Designed and built by Wilbur and Orville Wright
    • Assembled at a camp at the base of Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks of NC
    • After an initial first attempt failed, the machine flew four times on december 17th to distances of 120, 175, 200 and 842 feet. If you love aviation history I recommend a visit to the Outer Banks to The Wright Brothers Memorial – to learn about the first flight!
  • See famed flyer Charles Lindbergh’s The Spirit of St. Louis airplane, which he used to fly the first solo (one-person) flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927 between Long Island NY to Paris France!
    • Lindbergh unfortunately faced tragedy in the years after his famed flight. His son was kidnapped and killed. However on the bright side, his daughter, Anne became a beloved children’s author. We ready her Osprey Island when I was a fifth grader.
Ryan NYP “Spirit of St. Louis” (A19280021000) on display in the Boeing Milestones of Flight exhibit (Gallery 100), Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., June 29, 2016. Photo by Eric Long. [3T8A4026][NASM2016-02739]
  • Blast out of this world at the NASM – the museum includes:
    • a part of the Apollo 11 ship, the first mission to land on the moon
    • see a rock from Mars (a meteorite)
    • touch a rock from the MOON
  • The National Air and Space Museum has two locations – the main location on the National Mall in DC and a second location in nearby Chantilly VA (near Washington Dulles Airport) known as the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
  • The Udvar-Hazy Center is 760,000 square feet and has 1.6 million visitors per year
  • The NASM on The Mall had over 6 million visitors just before COVID (and it will go back up to pre-COVID levels shortly I’m sure)
  • The combined museums have over 68,000 artifacts – the largest collection of air and space objects in the world

The good news is you can fly high and have an intergalactic experience without even leaving the US.

To plan your own NASM adventure click here.

Remember that as of 2023 you need a timed ticket (free) – available on the Smithsonian website.

Leave a Reply