Your Flight Plan to L.A.’s Great Air Museums

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Happy National Aviation Day! On this date in 1939, President Roosevelt honored the birthday of Orville Wright with a new holiday that celebrates flying machines. Los Angeles has been at the forefront of aviation history and innovation for more than century. Amelia Earhart lived in North Hollywood much of her life, and has a school, library, and giant statue dedicated to her there. Elon Musk is making rockets in Hawthorne, Boeing needs 1,000 airplane engineers in Long Beach, and JPL’s Voyager has traveled from La Cañada Flintridge to the edge of the Solar System. Put on your aviator sunglasses and fly out to these aeronautical hot spots.

Pan Am Experience
The famous luxury carrier went bankrupt 25 years ago, but one man has created a simulation of 1960s air glamour in a San Fernando Valley warehouse.

94th Aero Squadron
An emergency landing near a French farmhouse during WWI is an unusual theme for a themed restaurant, but this one pulls it off beautifully.

Endeavour at California Science Center
The city came together to cheer the space shuttle on as it slowly made its way from LAX to the California Science Center. It continues to draw huge crowds as an attraction at this downtown museum.

Museum of Flying
Santa Monica still has a functioning airport and was once home to Douglas Aircraft. The expanded and remodeled museum was opened in 2012.

Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum
America’s first Air Meet was held in Compton in 1910. The museum for the adobe home of Manuel Dominguez features an elaborate scale model recreating that day.

Planes of Fame Air Museum
The great thing about a museum filled with vintage military aircrafts being located at an airport is that they bring the birds out to fly. Living history days bring experts, veterans, and the public together to celebrate the warbirds.

Airtel Hotel
A scale-model of a Pan Am 747 dominates the lobby of this flight-themed hotel that also features the Landings restaurant and Clipper Club cocktail lounge.

Robinson Helicopter
This company offers a tour of their helicopter factory where you can see the entire manufacturing process from engine installation to seat stitching.

Lyon Air Museum
After returning from WWII, William Lyon made a fortune building homes in booming Orange County. His namesake museum honors his military career and varied collecting interests. Don’t miss Steve McQueen’s motorcycle and Hitler’s Mercedes.

Flight Path Learning Center
Many of the docents at this LAX-adjacent museum are retired stewardesses from the golden age of air travel and their vintage uniforms are on display alongside seats, food service, and decorative items from aircraft.

Yanks Air Museum
Right next door to the Planes of Fame at the Chino airport is a museum with craft ranging from 1903 to present, with some biplanes and vintage jets in the mix.

Air Force Flight Test Museum
Deep inside Edwards Air Force Base is a collection of historic experimental craft. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday, but the base is not. Unless you can badge your way in or have Chuck Yeager in the car, you’ll have to join one of the public tours, which are sold out months in advance.

The Proud Bird
WWII pilot David Tallichet became the king of theme restaurants in the 1960s. This one is dedicated to historic aircraft and features 20 vintage planes on the grounds. Earlier this year they won a 20-year extension on their lease.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
When was the last time you were invited on Air Force One? Pay a visit to the president’s flying office and leave with a jar of Reagan’s signature jellybeans.

Columbia Memorial Space Center

This handsome science museum was built on the former NASA site in Downey with an aviation history dating back to the 1930s. STEM-centric exhibits include a mission control simulator and an authentic Apollo space capsule.

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