5 Fun Reasons to Visit the Tennessee Museum of Aviation

The history of human flight comes to life at the Tennessee Museum of Aviation in Sevierville, the state’s official repository and archive of aviation history. Discover historic aircraft, essential gear, and the gutsy folks who fly in risky operations. Inside the exhibit hall get up close to artifacts that detail how aviation evolved over time. In the hangar walk right up to real warplanes that are still able to fly. Outside you may get to watch airplanes take off and land, since the museum is adjacent to a runway for the regional airport. Since it opened in 2001, the 50,000-square-foot museum has intrigued guests of all ages. Here are five compelling reasons to visit.

SEE RARE AIRCRAFT!

There are less than a dozen World War II, P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft remaining in the world, and the Tennessee Museum of Aviation houses two of them, both still airworthy!

Airworthy "Warbirds”—vintage military aircraft that fly—are the foundation of the museum’s collection. “We have several airworthy aircraft, which is actually rare to find in an aviation museum,” says Rhonda Melton, operations coordinator for the museum.

Several vintage aircraft, radial and jet engines, plus military vehicles are on display in the hangar. Among the noteworthy airplanes is a Douglas A-1H “Skyraider” that bears battle scars it sustained in Vietnam, a North American T-28B “Trojan,” a Beech SNB, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17, and a North American Rockwell OV-10 “Bronco.”

MEET A WAR VETERAN!

Volunteer docents are on site to answer any questions you may have about items on display or even give guided tours of the collection, and they are all veterans. Their shared insights and memories help bring the exhibits to life.

On select dates, the museum hosts special programs such as lectures about the “Skyraider” hosted veterans who flew the plane, group tours for school field trips, and guest speakers such as members of the Vietnam Veterans Association. Contact the museum for information about upcoming events.

SIT IN A COCKPIT!

To get a pilot’s eye view of aviation, climb into an A-4 Skyhawk cockpit. While sitting behind the controls, snap a souvenir image.

Keep that camera ready, because photo ops abound throughout the museum. “The most common feedback we get from visitors is that the size of these aircraft is so impressive,” says Melton. “You can’t always walk right up to World War II aircraft, but you can here!”


TRAVEL THROUGH TIME!

An exceptional 52-foot “Wave Wall” traces significant milestones in the history of aviation from before the Wright Brothers to present day, including timelines of Military Aviation and Tennessee’s remarkable contributions to aviation. There’s even a full-scale replica of the 1902 Wright Glider on display

In the gallery, exhibits are grouped by time periods, including World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and so on. Hone in on an era of specific interest, walk through chronologically, or take a trip through history however you prefer.

WATCH TAKE-OFFS AND LANDINGS!

The museum is adjacent to a runway of the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport (KGKT), which is located in Sevierville, making it easy to watch planes arrive and take off if any flights happen to be scheduled during your visit.

Since airworthy aircraft are the foundation of the museum’s collection, exhibits change frequently. Some aircraft stored in the hangar might be up in the air somewhere when you arrive. You never know what you’ll see during a trip to the museum, not to mention what’s taking off and landing outside.


BONUS: TOUCH THE SKY!

Sky High Air Tours, which is not affiliated with the museum, operates out of the airport. So while on site you might get to see a historic 1927 Waco Model 10 Straightwing biplane take flight or swoop in for a landing. You can also schedule a flight in this authentic piece of American history and soar over the Smoky Mountains. There are just 36 such vintage biplanes registered in the U.S., and only a dozen still fly. Sky High Air Tours of eight-, 15- and 30-minutes are available seasonally; operations shut down in cold months

Since airworthy aircraft are the foundation of the museum’s collection, exhibits change frequently. Some aircraft stored in the hangar might be up in the air somewhere when you arrive. You never know what you’ll see during a trip to the museum, not to mention what’s taking off and landing outside.

The Tennessee Museum of Aviation is located at 135 Air Museum Way in Sevierville. For more information call 866-286-8738 or visit The Tennessee Museum of Aviation.

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