Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Student Group Tour magazine will continue to provide ideas for planning educational travel. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information. 

Experience Santa Monica’s rich history of aviation at the Museum of Flying, one of the largest collections of flight paraphernalia and aircraft in the world. Originally established in 1974 as the Douglas Museum and Library, the museum was first opened by the second president of the Douglas Aircraft Company, Donald Douglas Jr.

“For the better part of 100 years, the Douglas Aircraft Company represented the best of aircraft manufacturing,” said Mike Machat, curator at the Museum of Flying. “Our museum has many artifacts and company treasures, from airplane furniture to aircraft switch boards to the very 1951 boardroom roundtable where more than 4,000 airliners were sold by the Douglas Aircraft Company.”

Alongside a docent, students can explore the 22,000-square-foot building housing more than 200 artifacts. There’s almost two-dozen aircraft, including a replica Wright Flyer, an actual FedEx 727 nose section and a fascinating overview of the history of flight, including its roots in Santa Monica, California.

The museum is an exciting opportunity for students to experience the allure and excitement of aviation. One of the most popular attractions, the MaxFlight simulator, gives visitors a 360-degree, interactive virtual reality experience as they pitch and roll in a Boeing 737 airliner, an aerobatic plane and a F4U Corsair American fighter aircraft, among others.

Credit: Museum of Flying

The museum just opened its all-new “Queens of the Sky” exhibit, which pays tribute to historic and modern-day women of aviation. The exhibit highlights the historical feats and accomplishments of some of the most influential female pilots, from Amelia Earhart to the participants in the Women’s Air Derby, the first official women-only, transcontinental air race that left from Santa Monica in 1929.

“Our women in aviation exhibit is arguably one of the most significant exhibits we’ve ever opened at the Museum of Flying because we’re explaining to young girls that they, too, can have the same success in piloting as men have,” Machat said.

For more information call 310-398-2500 or go to museumofflying.org.