Here is a list of Aviation Museums that we heartily recommend after having personally visited each, with links to their websites:
First, check out Air Museum Network, a helpful website with news, directory, and an events calendar for air museums worldwide. Search for museums within 100 miles of your location or destination. And also try AviationMuseum.EU for another ambitious listing of museums worldwide.
100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum, Thorpe Abbots, UK – A visit to this compact museum in the control tower of this former USAAF airfield is very worthwhile if you are in East Anglia.
Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, Old Sarum Airfield, near Salisbury, UK - What's very cool about this collection are the many stand-alone British jet cockpits open for viewing and sometime climbing into, more than I've seen at one site. A very unique place.
Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, UK – A collection of all things Transportation, this was the site of Vickers manufacturing where Wellingtons and Hurricanes were produced. If you like vintage motorsports and aviation, don’t miss Brooklands.
Castle Air Museum, Atwater CA – Adjacent to the former USAF Castle Air Base, over 60 aircraft are available for viewing, including RB-36, SR-71, and B-52. Twice a year they hold Open Cockpit day, definitely a thrill to crawl or peak inside some of these aircraft.
De Havilland Aircraft Museum, near St. Albans, UK – Dedicated to the aircraft of its name, it has a marvelous working restoration shop in full view, the place to see the prototype of the infamous Mosquito.
Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum, MCAS Miramar, San Diego, CA – The only museum dedicated to US Marine Corps Aviation with 27 aircraft and related indoor displays.
Imperial War Museum, Duxford UK – An expansive site with loads of history that includes a large restoration shop and the American Air Museum. Take some time to see their Land Warfare Museum, too.
March Field Air Museum, Riverside CA – Definitely worth the trip if you’re in the LA area. Many aircraft displayed indoor and out. Don’t miss the cross section of the B-47 crew compartment.
National Museum of the US Air Force, Dayton OH – “The oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world” says it all…and DO NOT miss the R&D gallery for one-of-a-kind aircraft.
Oakland Aviation Museum, Oakland CA – If you are in the San Francisco area, this is a hidden gem in the East Bay. Worth the trip if just to tour the Short Solent Mk 111 Flying Boat.
Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa CA – More than 30 aircraft on display with monthly open cockpit days and a terrific air show, Wings over Wine Country.
Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs CA – “The museum that flies its planes”. And they are beautiful warbirds in terrific shape.
Pima Air and Space Museum, Tuscon AZ – Over 300 aircraft on display over 80 acres with weekday bus tours of the infamous 2600 acre US military aviation boneyard. What more could you ask for?
Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino CA – A terrific collection of both flying aircraft and static displays. Sister location is in Valle AZ, which we hope to visit soon.
Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford, UK – Exceptional display of Cold War-era aviation and others.
Royal Air Force Museum, London, UK – Just north of London at Hendon. WW2-era British, US, and German aircraft are real highlights.
Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum, at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, UK – Europe’s largest museum dedicated to Naval Aviation. Brilliant displays including a carrier deck full of aircraft.
San Diego Air and Space Museum, San Diego CA – A very comprehensive look at aviation history from early craft to the space age. Very nice indoor displays in historical Balboa Park.
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Washington DC & Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly VA – You must see both sites, allowing 2 days total. The most historical aircraft in existence today are at these sites.
Tangmere Military Aviation Museum, near Chicester, UK – Site of former RAF air field with significant history in the Battle of Britain. A brilliant display of artifacts in addition to aircraft.
Travis Air Force Base Heritage Center, Travis AFB, CA – Located on an active air base, there are 30 well-maintained aircraft on static display, some open at times.
USS Hornet Sea, Air, and Space Museum, Alameda, CA – Fifteen US Navy aircraft and specialty exhibits on display plus an incredible tour of an aircraft carrier.
USS Midway Museum, San Diego, CA – Numerous exhibits and 29 aircraft on display on the flight deck and below. Another carrier tour not to be missed.
Yanks Air Museum, Chino CA – Over 60 aircraft from WW1 onwards are on display in this well-done air museum, with an active restoration hangar to tour.