Destination Vacation Virginia: Let your curiosity take flight at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly

Destination Vacation

CHANTILLY, Va. (WDVM) — The Udvar-Hazy center is the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s annex at Washington Dulles International Airport. It holds thousands of aviation artifacts, allowing Virginia residents to take to the skies, without leaving their backyard.

It’s a place where your curiosity can take flight, allowing history to come to life. The museum features pieces dating back to the early days of aviation.

“This is probably one of the most unique museum spaces that anybody can come into. It’s basically an open storage space full of aircraft and spacecraft that people can tour and experience on their own time,” said Beth Crownover, Associate Director, Education & Visitor Experience.

The museum features over 4,000 air and space artifacts. It contains some of the most famous and innovative aircraft in history, such as the supersonic airline passenger jet Concorde and the Apollo 11 space capsule.

“It literally takes people’s breath away. You can’t even imagine you would come in contact with that, let alone be able to look at it so closely,” said Crownover.

The museum offers virtual docents to answer questions, with a monitor stationed at each of the artifacts. Ralph Koonts, a docent, shared the history of the SR-71 jet from a remote call at his home.

“It’s one of the fastest aircraft ever built. It can go 3.3 times the speed of sound, which is roughly about 2,200 miles an hour. Its’ last mission, it flew from Los Angeles to Dulles Airport in a record time of one hour and four minutes,” said Koonts.

One of the main attractions is the Discovery space shuttle, which completed 39 trips to space in its 27 years of service.

“The Discovery is here because it was the most used space shuttle. It flew 365 days in space, probably 250 persons rode on it,” said Bill Staffa, a docent.

It’s the perfect staycation day trip — an out of this world experience that aims to educate and inspire.

“Each one of these objects has a story and everybody here can be a part of that story. Without dreaming, we wouldn’t have this. Anybody can dream, and anybody can think big, and anybody can be a part of this story, just like the people that created these aircraft,” said Crownover.

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