National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is the companion facility of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Comprised of three huge hangars, the museum explores the history of aviation and spaceflight through displays of more than 3,000 artifacts and archival materials. See famous air and spacecraft like the Space Shuttle Discovery and the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. From the center’s observation tower observe modern planes leaving from and arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport.
The center was opened in 2003 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first powered flight. It displays more than 300 air and spacecraft models, as well as other exhibits that the main museum on the National Mall is unable to accommodate. Look for the Enola Gay, the B-29 plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, in the World War II Aviation exhibit. Stand in the glassed-in mezzanine of the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar to watch specialists repair and preserve artifacts from the center’s collection.
Head to the top of the 164-foot-tall (50-meter) Donald D. Engen Observation Tower for fantastic 360-degree views of Washington Dulles International Airport. The tower also displays replicas of air traffic control equipment, similar to those used in a functioning airport control tower.
Pay an extra fee to try out one of the center’s simulators. Experience simulations of air-to-air combat in an F-4 Phantom II jet fighter or take a tour of the International Space Station. Aviation and space-related movies are screened at the Airbus IMAX Theater. The center regularly hosts engaging lectures, demonstrations and talks.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located on the property of Washington Dulles International Airport in Chantilly, about a 40-minute drive from Washington, D.C. To get here, take the Metro Silver Line to Wiehle-Reston East station and transfer to a bus bound for the center. Admission is free, but parking requires a fee. Marvel at the rapid progression of air and space travel technology as you explore the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.