ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Aviation buffs don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time in Colorado. In fact, there’s plenty to do for free. While Denver is an awesome city, rich in aerospace history, sometimes it great to just hit road and explore something different. So, we’ve put together a list of some interesting aviation-themed daytrips, all within two hours of our fair city.
BY CENTENNIAL AIRPORT
Jan. 13, 2017 | 9:44 a.m.
Wings Over the Rockies Museum
7711 E Academy Blvd, Denver, CO 80230
www.wingsmuseum.org | 303-360-5360
Admission: $6 to $12.50 (military and veterans discount, children under 3 are free)
Travel time: Local
Probably the closest—and the coolest—air and space museum. Explore vintage military aircraft on open-cockpit day, flight simulators and a variety of distinguished limited-time exhibits. There’s a gift shop, and a restaurant, and special options for private group tours. A true delight for young and old. Parking is free.
U.S. Air Force Academy
Barry M. Goldwater Visitors Center
2346 Academy Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80840
www.usafa.af.mil/Leadership/PublicAffairs/VisitorCenter.aspx | 719-333-2025
Caveats: Government-issued identification required
Travel time: Approx. 50 minutes
If the architecture doesn’t take your breath away, then surely the beauty of the Academy’s location will. The 31,000-square-foot building houses exhibits, a robust gift shop, a restaurant and a 250-seat theater. Static displays help tell the story of the Academy’s history, cadet life, as well as current and former superintendents. There’s also a paved nature trail and a self-guided tour of the magnificent Cadet Chapel. Those with limited mobility may want to bring a wheelchair to go from the visitor’s center to the chapel. And don’t forget to check out the noon meal formation, Monday through Friday at 11;35 a.m. Parking is free.
National Museum of World War II Aviation
755 Aviation Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80916
www.worldwariiaviation.org | 719-637-7559
Admission: $6 to $10 (Senior and military discount, WWII veterans are free)
Travel time: Approximately 70 minutes
Quite the collection of WWII vintage aircraft that illustrate the history of American advancement in aviation. See trainers, cargo planes, bombers and pursuit aircraft. Along with static aircraft displays, the museum houses thousands of artifacts and historical documents from WWII. The museum is also the home to WestPac Restorations, a privately-owned WWII aircraft reputation facility. Visitors may take a docent-led tour of the restoration facility and see unique warbirds as they make their way back to their original glory. Parking is free.
Edward J. Peterson Air and Space Museum
150 E. Ent Ave., Peterson AFB, CO 80914
www.petemuseum.org | 719-556-4915
Caveats: Security procedures require 24-hour notice
Travel Time: Approximately 70 minutes
Located on Peterson Air Force Base, the museum started in 1982 as the NORAD Visitors Center. It is one of only a dozen Air Force Field museums in the nation. It is the site of the four original airfield structures, built between 1928 and 1941. See aircraft static displays as well, as early generation satellites and an underground missile launch control center used to train missile combat crews. Plan ahead and carefully review the “visitor information” section of the museum’s website. Security for non-military ID cardholders is a bit complicated, but worth it. Parking is free.
Spirit of Flight Center Colorado
2650 S. Main St., Bldg. A, Erie, CO 80516
www.spiritofflight.com | 303-460-1156
Admission: Donation, membership, other. Call.
Caveats: Limited operating hours. Check website or call.
Travel time: Approx. 60 minutes
Located onsite at the Erie Municipal Airport, visitors can drive or fly in to the museum. Peruse hundreds of rare aviation artifacts, art, uniforms, a small collection of WWII aircraft, including a Messerschmitt Bf-109, North American P-51D, and a Fairchild PT-19. The collection is often rotated, and the museum also rents space for special events.
Parking is free.
Pueblo Weisbroad Aircraft Museum
31001 Magnuson Ave., Pueblo, CO 81001
www.pwam.org | 719-948-9219
Admission: $7 to $9 (senior, military and veteran discounts, children under 7 are free)
Travel time: Approx. 1 hour, 40 minutes
A little off the beaten path. Okay a lot off the beaten path, but still a worthy road trip for aviation buffs. Named after former Pueblo city manager, Fred Weisbroad, the museum is located on what was, once, the Pueblo Army Air Base. With more than 30 aircraft on display—including a rare Boeing B-29 Superfortress and a 1926 Alexander Eaglerock, the museum is also home to a growing collection of military vehicles in the “motor pool,” and a large collection of wartime films and historical images. There’s a small gift shop on site.
Vintage Aero Flying Museum
7125 Parks Lane, Ft. Lupton, CO 80621
www.vafm.org | 303-502-5347
Admission: $5 for ages 12 and up
Caveats: Limited hours, call first.
Travel time: Approx. 1 hour, 25 minutes
Home of the Lafayette Foundation, the Vintage Aero Flying Museum hosts a tremendous collection of uniforms and memorabilia from both World Wars. Presentations on military history, with lunch available with a $5 donation. Static exhibits include a beautiful replica of the storied WWI SPAD French biplane.