Some aircraft are originals, some are reproductions – including most of the exhibits from the space age – but they all contribute to an evocative journey through the history of man’s quest to take to the air
Even people with absolutely no interest in aviation have been known to blink in astonishment at Seattle ‘s Museum of Flight, which takes visitors on a whirlwind tour through the history of aviation, from the Wright Brothers to the last flight of Concorde and the birth of the space age. Taking off at the Museum of Flight It shouldn’t be entirely surprising to find such an impressive aviation museum in Seattle – this is, after all, the home of Boeing, founded here by William E Boeing in 1916. Get ready for an exciting jet-propelled journey through war, peace, space rockets and inspired engineering. The story of how we got from the Wright Brothers to the first moon landing in less than 66 years is powerfully told using film, photos, audio, words, flight simulators, and of course, a wonderful collection of flying machines. Aircraft large and small are crammed into the museum’s hangars, from a ginormous Boeing 747 and a decommissioned Concorde to the tiny Caproni Ca 20, the first ever fighter plane, built during WWI. You can get within touching distance of a Lockheed Model 10-E Electra, the same model plane that Emelia Earhart was flying when she vanished over the Pacific, and walk through the Boeing VC-137B that was the first presidential jet to use the call sign ‘Air Force One’. Look out for such oddities as shaadi com Paul MacCready’s Gossamer Albatross, which crossed the English Channel by pedal power in 1979, and Aerocar International’s Aerocar, designed for both the airways and the highway. Plenty of displays cover the work of William E Boeing, the former lumber mogul who founded the Boeing aircraft company, transforming the world of travel, and the city of Seattle, in the process. The hangar known as the Red Barn was Boeing’s original production facility, producing wood-framed, fabric covered aircraft in the first half of the 20th century. Tickets & Practicalities It’s worth buying tickets ahead of time to make sure you get in, as availability can be limited on the day, and there’s heavy demand from school groups. The museum has plenty of parking, which is handy, as driving is the easiest way to reach the museum (Metro bus 124 also runs here from downtown). Pilots can also come by air – the museum has landing space for up to five light aircraft daily!
Hard to beat on a sunny spring day, this former military installation has been transformed into a wild coastal park, laced with walking trails and offering glimpses of the Olympic Mountains across the water. It’s the largest green space in the Seattle, with 534 acres of forest, meadows, sand dunes and beaches, providing a welcome escape for locals and a vital corridor for wildlife. History Discovery Park is a relatively recent addition to the city landscape; it wasn’t officially inaugurated until 1973. The peninsula occupied by the park was originally Fort Lawton, an army base established in 1897 to protect Seattle from unnamed enemies. Fort Lawton didn’t see much action until WWII, when it was used as barracks for troops bound for the Pacific theater.
Because all 26 buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, the exterior architectural features have been kept intact
Over the course of the war it held up to 1400 German and Italian prisoners. When the fort was declared surplus property in the 1960s, the City of Seattle decided to turn it into a park, but various historic buildings from the fort remain. Soon after the military officially pulled out in 2012, the old officers’ houses, many of which date from the early 20th century, were refurbished for private sale. The first houses went on the with prices starting at around $800,000. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of interest. Trails For a map of the park’s trail and road system, stop by the Discovery Park Environmental Learning Center near the Government Way entrance.