12 Best Aviation Museums Around The World

Just over a century has passed since the Wright brothers flew the first powered airplane in 1903. In that time, countless artifacts of flight and stories about aviation have been amassed, filling aviation museums around the world. These museums capture the achievements and products of pilots, designers, and engineers who have transformed flight and pushed the boundaries of air and space travel. These are some of the best aviation museums to explore, no matter where in the world you are.

Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, Colorado

Airplane at the entrance to the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum on April 23, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado, USA
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With 182,000 square feet of exhibits on the former Lowry Air Force base, this museum spans the history of U.S. aviation. Highlights include the “Spirit of America – Sonic Arrow,” a jet engine-powered car that reached 675 mph in 1996. The museum also has a satellite location at Denver’s Centennial Airport, showcasing historic aircraft.

Museo del Aire in Madrid, Spain

Hangar 5, Museo del Aire, Madrid
Wikimedia Commons / Benjamín Núñez González / CC 4.0

Located at Cuatro Vientos Airport, this museum features nearly 200 aircraft, telling the story of Spain’s rich aviation history. From the 1910-built Vilanova Acedo to modern Spanish Air Force jets, the exhibits also include a wide range of military technology and weaponry that have been developed alongside the evolving aircraft industry.

Sullenberger Aviation Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina

Beechcraft T34-A at the North Carolina Aviation Museum
Wikimedia Commons / RadioFan / CC 3.0

Home to the Airbus A320 from the “Miracle on the Hudson,” this museum offers a permanent exhibit on this extraordinary event. Despite its smaller size, it houses around 50 aircraft and is conveniently located on the grounds of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Visitors can explore various interactive exhibits and learn about aviation history, making it a fascinating destination for all ages.

Palm Springs Air Museum in Palm Springs, California

PSAM 'The Movie' Memphis Belle Escorted In
Wikimedia Commons / PSAM1996 / CC 4.0

Known for its interactive exhibits, this museum allows visitors to climb inside planes, talk to pilots, and even enjoy biplane rides. The museum’s 8,700-volume library includes first-person narratives and books on the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations during World War II. Additionally, visitors can explore a vast collection of historical artifacts, participate in hands-on activities, and attend special events and educational programs throughout the year.

Central Air Force Museum in Monino, Russia

Central Air Force Museum in Monino, Russia
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A shrine to Cold War aviation, this museum showcases Soviet planes from the 1960s and ’70s, including MiGs and Tu-144s. Guided by retired air force officers, visitors can also see the flight uniform worn by Francis Gary Powers during his U-2 spy plane mission. Additionally, the museum offers interactive exhibits and detailed histories of each aircraft on display.

Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum in Alice Springs, Australia

Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum in Alice Springs, Australia

Housed in the organization’s former radio house, this museum features a Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, historic radios, and medical equipment. Visitors can hear survival stories in the 70-seat theater, illustrating the service’s impact on healthcare in remote Australia. Interactive exhibits provide a hands-on experience, and guided tours offer deeper insights into the organization’s rich history and contributions to aviation and medical services.

Red Bull Hangar-7 in Salzburg, Austria

1945 Flying Bulls Chance Vought F4U-4 "Corsair", Hangar 7 Red Bull Museum, Salzburg, Austria
Wikimedia Commons / Ank Kumar / CC 4.0

Owned by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz, this stunning museum houses the Flying Bull stunt planes, a rare Cessna C337, and Alpha jets. It also features F1 cars, motorbikes, and rare plants, blending aviation history with a modern twist. The collection provides a unique experience for visitors, showcasing the innovation and passion behind these extraordinary machines.

Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Canada

Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.
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Home to over 130 aircraft, highlights include the nose section of an Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow and a 1939 Waco UPF-7 biplane. The museum’s extensive collection features original aircraft and offers unique exhibits like Professor Junker’s first all-metal aircraft from 1917. Additionally, visitors can enjoy interactive displays and historical artifacts that bring aviation history to life.

China Aviation Museum in Beijing, China

China Aviation Museum
Wikimedia Commons / 壹大口 / CC 3.0

With more than 200 aircraft, this museum includes Chinese fighter jets, a replica of the Wright Flyer, and Chairman Mao Zedong’s personal plane. Part of the museum is housed in a cave that was part of China’s Shahe airbase bunker system. Visitors can explore a unique blend of historical and modern aviation exhibits, providing a fascinating glimpse into China’s aviation history and technological advancements.

Oleg Antonov State Aviation Museum in Kiev, Ukraine

Panoramic view of the State Aviation Museum of Ukraine.
Wikimedia Commons / Sergej Majboroda / CC0

One of the world’s largest aviation technology displays, this museum features an impressive collection of Soviet-built planes, including supersonic bombers and transport planes. A notable exhibit is the Tupolev-104, the world’s first jet airliner to enter passenger service. Visitors can explore these historic aircraft and learn about their technological advancements and historical significance.

Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow, Poland

Polish Aviation Museum, Kraków
Wikimedia Commons / Dwxn / CC 4.0

Located on one of Europe’s oldest military airfields, this museum showcases an impressive array of aviation history, featuring Soviet-era Cold War jets and pre-World War I aircraft. Visitors can explore rare memorabilia and a unique collection of untouched aircraft from the Deutsche Luftfahrtsammlung. The museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of military aviation over the past century.

EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin

EAA Aviation Museum
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Featuring around 200 aircraft and over 20,000 aviation artifacts, this museum focuses on home-built and experimental aircraft. The EAA hosts a week-long airshow every summer, attracting thousands of visitors to celebrate aviation history. During this event, enthusiasts can enjoy flight demonstrations, workshops, and exhibits, making it a must-visit for aviation lovers and history buffs alike.

These aviation museums offer a fascinating glimpse into the history and evolution of flight. From historic aircraft to modern jets, each museum provides unique insights into the achievements of pilots and engineers who have shaped the world of aviation. Whether you’re an aviation enthusiast or a casual visitor, these museums promise a captivating journey through the skies.

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