Come Fly Away with a Visit to Wings Over the Rockies

By Jessica Hughes

Wings Over the Rockies Museum

Where: 7711 E Academy Blvd, Denver, CO 80230

The lowdown: There are two ways to experience Wings Over the Rockies — the museum and the Exploration of Flight location at the Centennial AirportEstablished in 1994, the Museum, located in Denver’s historic Lowry neighborhood, features more than 97,000 square feet of world-class historical and educational exhibits inside Hanger 1 of the former Lowry Air Force Base. Walk amongst over 80 different aircraft and spacecraft where you can stand next to giants like the B-1A Lancer and get a real feel for what it’s like to fly and maintain these impressive pieces of machinery.

Anchored in the center of the hanger is the super rare Rockwell B-1A Lancer bomber. The version at the museum is only one of four prototypes that first flew in the 1970s. Standing next to this 150-foot-long aircraft will impress even non-aviation enthusiasts.

Visitor favorites include the Bell UH-1M Iroquois “Huey” helicopter, one of the most iconic symbols of the Vietnam War, and the Grumman F-14A Tomcat which played a leading role in the 1986 movie “Top Gun.” Plus, see rare treasures such as one of the five remaining B-18s in the world — the Douglas B-18A Bolo and the Wright Propeller from a Wright Model K seaplane, which is a part of the updated Wright Brothers exhibit at the museum.

Wright Brothers Exhibit

The lowdown: Opening December 17, on the 120th anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first powered flight, is the updated Wright Brothers exhibit at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum. The exhibit will open at noon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, which the public is invited to attend.

The exhibit includes a new and improved visitor experience including the Wright Flyer simulator and an original Wright Model K Propeller signed by Orville Wright at his home in Dayton in 1944. Wilbur and Orville Wright spent four years researching and developing the first successful powered airplane, the 1903 Wright Flyer. After testing three full-sized gliders, the Wrights’ first powered airplane flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903, making a 12-second flight, traveling 36 m (120 ft), with Orville piloting. The best flight of the day, with Wilbur at the controls, covered 255.6 m (852 ft) in 59 seconds.

Experience it for yourself in the updated and more realistic simulator. Featuring a new projector and a larger, brighter screen, the simulator also has wrap-around walls adjacent to the screen that will have graphics to reinforce a sense of being right there on the sands of Kitty Hawk in late 1903.

Exploration of Flight

Where: 13005 Wings Way, Centennial, CO 80112

The lowdown: Where the joy of taking flight really comes to life is at the Exploration of Flight location at Centennial Airport. Set within a 15-acre campus, visitors are welcomed by the 18,000 square foot hanger where they can partake in a variety of interactive experiences. Test your aviation skills in their flight simulator or take to the skies with a guided flight experience.

This location is host to many unique events such as Breakfast Fly-in where on the first Saturday of every month visitors can enjoy breakfast from a local food truck, watch aircraft fly in and explore interactive exhibits and simulators. Or hop aboard for one of their flight experiences and see military history come to life on a Beechcraft T-34, or take a trip to the ’70s in near-factory original condition Varga 2150A, or fly in a state-of-the-art Tecnam P2010! Flight experiences last about an hour with a 30-minute flight time.

Also, be on the lookout for their once-in-a-lifetime flying events like the “History Comes to Life” showcase. This past Labor Day weekend, visitors could sign up to fly in one of two different vintage aircraft — the EAA Ford Tri-Motor and the C-47A That’s All, Brother. The Ford Tri-motor aircraft is labeled as the world’s first luxury airliner and marked the beginning of commercial flight. The That’s All Brother military C-47A troop carrier aircraft led the Airborne Invasion on D-Day in 1944.

Who’s ready to fly? Come fly with Wings Over the Rockies for a truly unique experience in Denver.

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