In 2006, a severe storm blew off portions of the Museum’s roof, destroying the aviation gallery below and giving the Museum an opportunity to rebuild the gallery from the ground up. As described in the Museum’s Master Interpretive Plan, the gallery includes the following components, with more exhibits to be added over time:

Technology and Principles of Flight: how mechanical devices are able to fly; parts of an airplane; engine, wing and propeller technology.

Early Aviation: the dream of flight illustrated by a Native American legend; ballooning and its use during the Civil War.

Commercial Aviation: the growth and development of passenger air travel and air mail; aircraft models; flight attendant uniforms from the 1940s to today.

Helicopters and Emergency Transport: helicopter technology; the story of Life-Guard, Virginia’s first air ambulance service.

Virginia’s Commercial Airports: the design, history, impact, and function of Virginia’s major airports, with a detailed look at Roanoke Regional Airport; airport lighting, and parts of an airport.

Roanoke’s Early Civilian Aviators: early aviators included barnstormers and daredevils whose flying exhibitions introduced flight to the public and increased demand; the early days of flight; the airport’s early development.

Roanoke’s Military Aviators: dramatic firsthand accounts of aviators from this region who helped shape the nation’s history serving in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and other conflicts. The Museum seeks stories from additional aviators and funding to expand our interactive video history kiosk.

Virginia’s Military Bases: the role Virginia’s bases have played in war and peace; aircraft carriers.

Cutting Edge Research and Development: a look at the contributions of NASA Langley Research Center and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport.

General Aviation: Most pilots fly in general aviation. Section features the walk-in fuselage of a private jet, passenger compartment and cockpit; the diversity of aviation careers; how to learn to fly.

Women in Aviation: This exhibit highlights the contributions of women to the field of aviation. Section features individual women such as Bessie Coleman and Roanoke-native Martha Anne Woodrum Zillhart as well as members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II.

Flight Talk: interviews and first person recollections of significant moments in aviation history. Listen to stories from World War II veteran pilots, engineers, and a NASA astronaut, just to name a few! Please note this exhibit is currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Please note exhibits change throughout the calendar year without notice.


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