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“Not quite a journey to the Moon....but well worth your time!!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA 20151
703-572-4118
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$39*
and up
Ranked #1 of 13 things to do in Chantilly
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
FAYETTEVILLE
Senior Contributor
26 reviews 26 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
159 helpful votes 159 helpful votes
“Not quite a journey to the Moon....but well worth your time!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 29, 2012

Your journey out to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy (say that fast three times) Center will not be a short one. And with all that there is to be seen in and around DC proper (National Monuments, Museums, White House, etc.), it certainly could be argued, "Is it worth my time to go all the way out to Dulles?" Let me answer that question LOUDLY and EMPHATICALLY...."YES, IT IS!!"

Granted, my wife and I, family and friends have had many opportunities to visit most of what there is to be seen in around our Nation's Capitol. But, we had never had the opportunity to visit the newest branch of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Our visit was long overdue, and we are so very pleased that we've finally made it out there.

Let me begin with the only other "downside" we observed with respect to visiting this great venue. Yes....point one....compared to what can be seen in the center of the capitol...it is a long way "out there" (think of it as a constitution builder). Point two.....there is a $15 parking fee (per car) to be admitted to the facility area. But that is where any "disappointment" you have with this facility will end.

So what's there to see? First, this is a much more tourist / historian friendly facility than the National Air and Space Museum within the National Mall area. The exhibits themselves are much more "viewable" (easy to see and appreciate the form and structure of the air vehicle) than what can be seen in the other museum.

Second, I personally believe it has three stellar attractions that are considered MUST SEE objects if you are an aviation enthusiast. They are: The B-29 Super Fortress (Enola Gay); the SR-71 "Blackbird"; and, the show-stopper of them all - the Space Shuttle "Discovery". Again, the beauty of these objects is in the great care and thought that has been invested with respect to how each is displayed.

There are many, many other aviation and space aircraft on display that will keep you entranced for hours. So......when planning your visit to this facility easily plan on investing at least half a day, if not a full day to fully appreciate all of the aeronautical history on display.

There are also guided tours available should you be unfamiliar with the history of flight. Although we did not personally avail ourselves of an opportunity to take a guided tour, I did have an opportunity to speak with one of the tour guides. I think he is typical of the guides who volunteer their time. This gentleman is a retired Navy and Commercial test pilot with experience in more than 29 experimental aircraft. You couldn't be in better hands.

I have pointedly left what I think is the best part of this museum experience for the last. In addition to an excellent food court, and an outstanding on-site book and collectibles store, the museum also boasts a number of flight simulators that you - the patron - can fly and enjoy.

For $8 @ person, you get a five minute flight experience at the controls of an F4 Phantom fighter. We aren't talking about some lame "watch the video" flight simulator here. We are talking about a full-out, Disney World "E" ticket ride. As a former military aviator, my brother-in-law agreed to fly with me as we "worked it out." I think he was fine, right up to the point where I rolled the Phantom inverted to dive and shoot-down the bogie. (And "Yes", the simulator really does roll inverted.) That, with the barrel rolls, high-G turns, etc., and he was "hurting." "Yes", you can make this a sedate and gentle ride....but what's the point.

Won't bore you with the details, but my brother-in-law and I flew the simulator four times; each of us getting a couple of turns at being the pilot and the weapons officer. I think we would have flown it more, but the museum was closing and our wives were dizzy from watching us (from the outside) spin and invert the simulator.

One comment so that you are prepared for this experience should you decide to fly a "mission." The flight begins with a carrier launch....which would be more realistic if you were actually slammed back into your seat when the launch occurs. But, that is the only disappointment in this flight experience you will have.

If you've ever experienced the rush of being a military or civil pilot.....this is a MUST DO!!

If you aren't up to it, there is a more sedate simulator ride also available.

No matter.....this is a museum experience well worth your time and investment.

See you upstairs.

Visited September 2012
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Michigan
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4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“A Day in Space”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2012

The displays are great. You can get very close to many of the planes.

The gift shop was VERY crowded.

Visited September 2012
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Akron, Ohio
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Better than DC”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2012

We were anticipating seeing the Discovery Space Shuttle and the Concord, but it was so much more. Well designed with planes on three levels. Many were hung to look like they were flying. They had tours every few minutes for those interested. We didn't actually do a tour as we didn't feel it necessary since there were plaques for each plane, but we overheard a few and the guides seemed to be giving additional background. There's a large variety of aircraft from every era. They even have the Enola Gay. $15 to park, but free admission.

Visited September 2012
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Maryland, USA
Top Contributor
135 reviews 135 reviews
45 attraction reviews
Reviews in 37 cities Reviews in 37 cities
86 helpful votes 86 helpful votes
“Really loved it.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 27, 2012

Huge, not very busy. Wonderfully displayed full planes. Planes are organized by age. Space shuttle discovery is there. Two- three free Docent tours daily are Phenominal and educational. Some hands on with an Old Cessna available for kids to get in and see the cockpit and get their picture. A few simulators pricey and not that great $8. . Good IMAX THEATER $8 with interesting shows. Occasional full length movies. Free entrance, $15 to park. Parking after 4pm free if you just want to see an IMAX FULL LENGTH FEATURE FILM. Huge overlook SEVEN STORIES UP to see planes landing and taking off from Dulles. Only food is McCafe. Best for older kids maybe 9 and up.

Visited September 2012
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The Villages, Florida
Top Contributor
99 reviews 99 reviews
58 attraction reviews
Reviews in 48 cities Reviews in 48 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
“Wow! Aviator Heaven!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 27, 2012

Whether you are into aircraft or not, this museum is amazing! Well worth the trip outside the confines of DC. The Enola Gay and the Columbia shuttle on display top everything else there -- and there is plenty, from early aviation to ultra-lights to a 747. There is an area where you can watch work on planes being renovated, too. I would recommend joining one of the docent tours to get the most out of your visit. There is also a very interesting exhibit on air traffic control in the Observation Tour. My son and sister did the jet fighter simulators and said it was great fun. There is a McDonald's on premise and a nice (but not overwhelming) gift shop. Depending on your level of interest, plan to spend from 3 hrs to all day here!

Visited September 2012
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