Do you have a kid who wishes he could fly like a bird? Or anyone in your family crazy about planes? The thought of soaring through the clouds can captive anyone’s attention, young or old. The Carolinas Aviation Museum can satisfy everyone needs to explore all that flies in the sky.
The ticket office is located inside the gift shop, which will take some corralling of the kids right from the start. Arrows on the floor will direct visitors to the Orientation Room, just outside the entrance to the museum. A brief introduction given by a Museum docent can be heard here. From this point on, it is a self-guided tour.
Housed inside a hanger, the museum is filled with a large collection of aircraft, helicopters, equipment, and artifacts spanning years of aviation history. The hanger is not air-conditioned, but there are two gigantic fans that provide good circulation of the air and in some spots a good breeze. Free water is provided in several locations inside the hanger.
I Spy and a Scavenger Hunt
Inside the Orientation Room, look for clipboards on the desk. Kids can choose to play either I Spy or a Scavenger Hunt. The I Spy game is for younger kids who match the name of a plane to photographs on the sheet. Of course, seeing the real life planes will help them make identifications. The Scavenger Hunt is for older kids who can read well and looking for a challenge. Kids answer ten questions by reading exhibit information throughout the museum. Questions include how long was the first flight at Kitty Hawk and what plane can fly vertically. Answer all ten questions and receive a prize.
Miracle on the Hudson
The biggest draw to the museum is the exhibit on the Miracle on the Hudson, the US Airways Airbus which landed on the Hudson River in New York City on January 15, 2009. A flock of Canadian geese struck the plane and caused the loss of power to both engines. Captain Sullenberger made a brilliant landing on the freezing river waters and everyone on board survived.
This exhibit covers a large portion of museum. The airplane has been reassembled with all the remaining parts for viewing. There is a display of items recovered from the plane, timeline of events, recovery and investigation. Visitors can watch a video hearing from some survivors and rescuers about their accounts of the event. A display shows the process of transporting the airplane from New Jersey to its final home here in Charlotte.
Like most museums, there is a lot of looking not touching, but there are three cockpits, kids can climb in and get interactive. Flip switches, push buttons, and move throttles to act like a pilot. There are Museum docents stationed at two of the three cockpits. The staff is really helpful and patience with the kids. The docents are knowledgeable which keeps things interesting for the adults.
My Daughters’ Take
Surprisingly, the Miracle on the Hudson captivated and held my ten and eight-year-old daughters’ attention. They really enjoyed this exhibit, but luckily never uttered a word about not wanting to ride a plane again. My younger daughter is now questioning if she likes Canadian geese though.
Wide smiles spread across their faces the moment they sat down in a cockpit. It was mind-bogging to them how many buttons, switches, and gauges a pilot has to know how to work. I believed they have gained a newfound respect for a pilot’s job. They both liked to know which button dropped a bomb on the Phantom fighter jet. It was the red one.
For more information, log onto www.carolinasaviation.org.