I know what you’re thinking, I’ve been to several aviation museums and not a single one really made me want to come back. After a long morning of running errands in frigid 19 degree weather today, I pulled up to the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum and memories of dusty planes and “DO NOT TOUCH” signs flooded in. I hoped for the best as I pulled the boys out of their car seats for the tenth time that day and pushed through thick double doors to the museum hanger. Right when we walked in, an actual Jedi X-Wing Fighter greeted us. My boys aren’t into Star Wars yet, but I thought it was awesome! I had a feeling then that I might have to change my views on aviation museums.
The hanger held tons of aircraft, from a huge B-1A Lancer to tiny replica planes, and even included hands-on stuff for Bubba and Zeke. In the space section, a room called “KidSpace” could have satisfied both boys for the entire visit. The room wasn’t huge so I’m not sure what it would look like if there were a ton of kids in it, but my boys had a blast by themselves with space robots and astronaut action figures.
Our walk around the hanger somewhat entertained them (stroller was a must as the hanger was huge), but I think it will be a few years before they are into glass display cases. We spent a good 45 minutes playing in the “Stanley Aviation Room” that had a dozen kid-sized airplane replicas, almost like boxcars with pedals. One was the perfect size for Zeke, and he was so proud to copy his brother in his own fighter jet.
Volunteers run the place and I have to say they were the reason our visit was fabulous. In the plane room, a volunteer dropped everything she was carrying and asked to take a picture of me with the boys, another older gentlemen let Bubba peek in and examine a plane he was renovating. The best volunteer was Al, a Marine veteran with two Korean War tours under his belt.
When I asked if Bubba could get into an open cockpit even though it wasn’t Cockpit Day (more on this later), he walked us over to a fighter jet and let both Bubba and Zeke hop in and take the controls. Talk about making a 4-year-old’s day!
We spent almost three hours at the museum and both boys had a blast. My only complaint concerned their veteran discount, which didn’t really seem like that much of a discount. The tickets for the museum were $9 for Adults 13 and up, $6 for Children 4 and up (under 4 free), and $1 off the total family price for veterans. I found out an annual family membership is only $50, very low compared to other museums in the area.
I think when we go again we’ll have to attend Cockpit Demo Day. It is the 2nd Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and children are allowed to climb into several aircraft cockpits. I’m also thinking it would be fun to get a group of friends together and participate in a guided tour with our kiddos (tours are available with advance notice). The museum was a surprisingly a great indoor winter activity for the boys with only a few pesky “DO NOT TOUCH” signs. It’s a hidden gem as we were only one of a half-dozen visitors that afternoon. The next Cockpit Demo Day is December 12th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. so check it out!
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