The Museum of Flight is a private, non-profit museum that displays aircraft and other aviation-related exhibits. It's an important part of Seattle's history and its visitors can witness many relics from the earliest days of aviation all the way to jets and rockets. It's located at the southern end of King County International Airport (Boeing Field) in the city of Tukwila, WA.
Founded in 1965, this place is the largest private air & space museum in the world. A large K-12 educational program is hosted here and it offers a variety of programs to suit any age and interest.
The museum is visited by more than 500,000 visitors every year and also has outreach programs to 140,000 students. There's our Challenger Learning Center, Aviation Learning Center and summer camp (ACE), in addition to onsite programs.
The Museum of Flight began as the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation in 1965. The foundation was created to recover and restore a 1929 Boeing 80A-1 discovered in Anchorage, Alaska.
In 1968, the name "Museum of Flight" was first seen being used for a 10,000 squar foot facility that was rented at Seattle Center. It took 16 years to complete the restoration and after completion, the museum made its way to be on display as a centerpiece for the museum.
Planning for a permanent structure began at this time; concepts were drawn up.
In 1975 the William E. Boeing Red Barn was purchased for one dollar from the Port of Seattle, which had taken possession of it after Boeing abandoned it during World War II.
The 1909 all-wooden Red Barn that originally housed the company, was towed two miles (3km) up the Duwamish River to its current location at the southwestern end of Boeing Field.
The Red Barn had been unused after the late 1970s, but was able to be restored in 1983. After restoration it was reopened to public.
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To raise funds for the construction of the T.A. Wilson Great Gallery, a funding campaign was launched in that year.
In 1987, four Mercury astronauts were joined by Vice President George Bush to cut the ribbon and open the facility on July 10, with a volume of 3,000,000 cubic feet (85,000 m3).
This gallery's structure is built in a space frame lattice that holds more than 20 hanging aircraft, including a nine-ton Douglas DC-3.
The Challenger Learning Center at the museum has been a big part of the educational programs ever since it was completed in 1992. It features interactive exhibits to allow students to experience a Space Shuttle mission in a safe and engaging environment. The exhibit includes a mock-up NASA mission control room and different experiments for kids to take part in.
The Wings Café & Skyline room added an additional 17,200 square feet (1,630 square meters) to the museum and now has a capacity of 220 people.
At the same time, one of the museum's most well-known artifacts was laid on the floor in the center of the room, with its body facing up. The Lockheed M-21, a modified Lockheed A-12 Oxcart designed to carry Lockheed D-21 reconnaissance drones is easily recognizable for its large wings and engine housings.