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The San Diego Air & Space Museum

2001 Pan American Plaza

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101

Written by Scott Messmore
Most Americans know that Charles Lindbergh flew the Spirit of St. Louis when he made the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean in 1927. But not many people know that the Spirit of St. Louis was actually designed and built by a San Diego aviation firm, the Ryan Airline Company.

From Biplanes to Blackbirds

The San Diego Aerospace Museum owns 69 different aircraft, of which are many retired military aircraft, many are reproduced
or restored antiques. From the exact reproduction of the Wright Flyer to a P-40 Warhawk of the Flying Tigers to Apollo space craft, the San Diego Aerospace Museum has a wide ranging selection of the first century of aviation. A supersecret, and superfast, SR-71 Blackbird reconnaissance jet greets visitors outside the museum. Two flying-condition reproduction aircraft greet you as you enter the San Diego Aerospace Museum: the Spirit of St. Louis and the Curtiss A-1. The Curtis A-1 was the U.S. Navy's first seaplane and was built by Curtiss Aviation, another local aircraft company. From the Rotunda, the Aerospace Museum takes visitors on
Wright Brothers Exhibit
a journey from Kill Devil Hill where the Wright Brothers first flew, through two world wars, the beginnings of the manned space program and ends with the International Space Station project in today's newspaper headlines.

The International Aerospace Hall of Fame

In the Aerospace Museum's center courtyard, a huge F4 Phantom chases a Mig 17. Both aircraft are painted in the colors of Vietnam War aces, American and North Vietnamese. Enemies during the Battle of Britain in World War II, a German Me 109 Messerschmitt hangs upside down from the ceiling directly over its arch enemy, the British Spitfire. Similarly, in the section about the Korean War, an F-86 Sabre Jet and former enemy, the
Soviet-built Mig 15 rest only feet from each other. Also located in the San Diego Aerospace Museum is the International Aerospace Hall of Fame, the only one of its kind in the world. The Hall of Fame commemorates the pioneers, heroes and achievers of the aviation age with photographs, artifacts, paintings, airplane models and memorabilia. In the Hall of Fame visitors can learn about famous aviators such as the Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong, Chuck Yeager, the Mercury 7 astronauts, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh and local aviators such as Glenn Curtiss and Reuben H. Fleet, whom Balboa Park's Fleet Science Center is name
Spirit of St. Louis Replica
after. The Aerospace Museum has a large collection of model airplanes and aviation related artifacts. Visitors can try out a video-game like exhibit used to train pilots in World War II. The museum also has an extensive aircraft restoration program to preserve historical aircraft.

Hours of Operation and Location

The San Diego Aerospace Museum is locate in Balboa Park at 2001 Pan American Plaza, next door to the San Diego Automotive Museum. The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The museum is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission to the museum is: adults, $8; seniors over 65, $6; children six to 17 years old, $3. The fourth Tuesday of every month is free admission day at the Aerospace Museum. Tours are
P40 Fighter Flying Tiger Exhibit
available everyday and by appointment on weekend days.

For more information about the San Diego Aerospace Museum, call 619-234-8291.

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Last Updated: September 23, 2015