If you’re traveling in Tucson, AZ and you have an interest in aviation or military aircraft, the Pima Air & Space Museum is a must-stop for adults and kids alike. For kids, my take is that around 8 yrs and older would adapt the best to the long walks and the time/attention span required to view the entire museum.
We spent a full day here and could easily have stretched it into two days.
This museum is one of the largest, non-government funded aviation and space museums in the world. There are 6 indoor exhibit hangars (3 dedicated to World War 2) and 80 acres of area on the museum grounds. Over 350 historical aircraft are on display.
Adult admission to view the main indoor exhibits is $16.50 USD. In addition, there is a tram tour of the outdoor exhibit space for $6 USD and a bus tour to the 2600-acre AMARG Boneyard for $10 USD. All are well-worth your travel dollars. There is reduced admission for children, seniors, and residents of Pima County.
The variety of aircraft on display is mind-boggling – everything from the beginnings of flight to Air Force 1 planes and everything in between.
There is even opportunity to view and enter the inside of some the bombers.
Hubs had a particular interest in this stop in Tucson, as his Dad was a pilot for the RAF during WW2 and was overseas 3 years, flying the generals to the battle zones across Europe.
The bus tour to the AMARG Boneyard was also worthwhile. The dry desert air lends itself to the preservation of the aircraft. There are planes as far as the eye can see and the tour guides give a wonderful explanation as your bus takes you through row after row of aircraft in varying states of disrepair.
In the Dorothy H Finley Space Gallery (at the museum site), there’s a great history of space travel right from the cold war up to and including present day. On display there, is a moon rock from the Apollo 16 mission as well as 2 asteroids. There’s even a simulator where you can sit in a pod and practice docking a space capsule.
The Flight Grill in the main building, is a welcome stop between walking and tours. It has a quick-service menu of everything from burgers and hot dogs to salads, and home-made ice cream. The ceiling to floor windows afford a great view of landings and take-offs from Davis Monthan Air Force Base across the street, providing a great bit of ambience for where you are.
TIPS: Wear comfortable walking shoes. The concrete floors of the large hangars and the walking required do not lend themselves to flip-flops or shoes with poor support. Take advantage of the many benches scattered along the way.
- “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
Leonardo da Vinci