Fairfax, Virginia is the proud home of The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. The 760,000 square feet facility is an annex of The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum located Washington Dulles International Airport. The companion facility to NASM on the National Mall, The Udvar-Hazy Center provides enough space for the Smithsonian to display the overflow of aviation and space artifacts that cannot be permanently exhibited at the Museum in Washington, DC. Together, the two museums house the world’s most expansive collection of aviation and space artifacts.
The Center was made possible by a $65 million gift to the Smithsonian Institution in October 1999. Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, an immigrant from Hungary and co-founder of the aircraft leasing corporation, International Lease Finance Corporation, made the generous donation. Previously NASM’s overflow collection had been stored at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Silver Hill, Prince George’s County, Maryland. This storage space was unavailable to visitors. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center opened to the public in December, 2003.
At the Center aircraft are displayed on three levels of a large Boeing Aviation Hangar. Some aircraft are located on the floor where guests can walk among them and some hang from the arched ceiling on elevated skywalks. This brings many engines, helicopters, ultra-lights, and experimental flying machines into a museum setting for the first time. Artifacts on display include the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest jet in the world; the Boeing Dash 80, the prototype of the 707; the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay; and the deHavilland Chipmunk aerobatic airplane. Experience dramatic views of an aerobatic airplane hot-dogging upside down, World War II fighters angling for a victory or numerous engines, rockets, satellites, gliders, helicopters, airliners, ultra-lights and experimental flying machines.
All the artifacts are impressive, but the centerpiece is the space shuttle Discovery in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar. The Hangar opened in November 2004 and focuses on space-related items, including hundreds of famous spacecraft, rockets, satellites and other small artifacts. Other notable space artifacts include the Gemini VII space capsule; the Mobile Quarantine Unit used upon the return of the Apollo 11 crew; and a Redstone rocket.
There is plenty to see at The Center. Visitors also have the chance to watch air traffic at Dulles Airport from the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower. Another special feature is the National Aviation and Space Exploration Wall of Honor – a permanent memorial to thousands of people making contributions to aviation and space exploration. Names of honorees continue to be added, inscribed on the air-foil-shaped wall. The Center also offers the Airbus IMAX Theater and a flight simulator ride.
Designed to captivate visitors of all ages, The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is an educational institution of Fairfax. Spend a day and enjoy food service; a museum store; free docent tours and daily educational programs. School group tours and activities are available.
10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week.
Public parking is $15.
14390 Air & Space Museum Pkwy