My pilot friends and I have always enjoyed flying to aviation museums, especially the ones you can walk to from your airplane. Some are large and well known, but many are small labors-of-love that take some effort to track down. One year my brother-in-law, Pat, and I decided we should try to visit every airport-based aviation museum in New York. Pat is a former Vietnam Bird Dog pilot with both a Maule and a Searey who has flown the length and breadth of the state but it turned out even with his knowledge it was not that easy to identify all of the existing museums. I have a buddy in Houston, Terry, who also enjoys flying to museums so I started trying to locate Texas museums as well. Turned out, I was never able to find a good comprehensive list so last year I decided to try to build one myself.
With more than a few hours of online and phone research and some helpful crowdsourcing through Beechtalk, I eventually compiled a list of 176 on-airport aviation museums in the U.S. and some in Canada – all of which can be accessed without the need to rent a car or pay for a ride. I contacted most of the museums to confirm exactly where to park and how to get to the museum, discarding ones that required a rental/rideshare. I then created a Google Maps layer with the locations of all the museums which allows a pilot to see them in one place online or even upload the layer to Foreflight so you can see them on the moving map. The positions shown are accurate down to the specific building on the airport.
This is a permanent link to the Google Maps layer at which anyone can access. The KML file which can be uploaded to ForeFlight is here (instructions below). I also have a spreadsheet with Museum website links, phone numbers, and details for where a pilot should park to access the museum.
The spreadsheet shows whether the museum will allow you to park on their ramp, and if not, the location of the nearest FBO or ramp parking. It also includes the walking distance to the museum. A few museums are located across the airport from GA parking which is too far to walk or not safe or legal to walk, but they have made arrangements with a particular FBO to give rides. I have included a few important museums which will require a taxi, rideshare, or rental, but I really just wanted to focus on GA-accessible museums. Many are very small and are supported entirely by volunteers. I would like to see them get as much traffic as possible to support their important mission.
Unfortunately, museum access, aircraft parking, and timings tend to change without warning so I recommend that you contact the museum by phone or email before going.
I hope you enjoy the directory and are able to visit many of the museums. And if you have any updates like new museums, closures, etc., please contact me at [email protected]. Finally, if there is anyone out there who has, or eventually does, visit all of the museums on the list, we would sure like to hear about it. What a bucket list item that would be!
If you wish to upload the locations to Foreflight: (sorry this is a bit complicated but it works):
- The link above must be opened in Google Maps in a BROWSER and not in the Google Maps App. You can either paste the link above into your browser window or in some cases just hold down the link and then select “open in safari” or “open in windows”.
- On the left of the google maps page there will be a dialogue box with three dots in the upper right corner just to the right of “Museums with GA Access”.
- Click the three dots
- Select “Export to KML/KMZ”
- Select the box “Export as KML instead of KMZ”
- Click download, the file will be sent to your download folder (in Apple) or somewhere else in MS (sorry I don’t have windows).
1) Attach the downloaded file “Museums with GA Access.KML” to an email
2) Send the email to yourself
3) Open the email on your iPad
4) Open the attachment by clicking on it
5) Click on the box with the arrow in the top right of the screen
6) Select Foreflight
7) Select Custom Content
8) Select Custom Map Layers
The layer with the museum locations will then be shown in the bottom right of the dialogue box where you normally select the chart you want to see (Aerial Map, US VFR Sectional, etc.) and other layers (Traffic, Ceiling, User Waypoints, etc.).
You can select it or deselect it any time and the locations of the museums will appear on your screen (overlaid on whatever chart you are using). They will be shown as Blue and White triangles.
The chart looks like this:
- General Aviation Accessible Aviation Museum Directory - May 10, 2023