Aviation extends over more than two thousand years, beginning with kite flying in China, attempts at tower jumping, balloons, moving forward to supersonic, and hypersonic flight by powered, heavier-than-air jets and more recently to unmanned drones.
Leonardo da Vinci’s 15th-century dream of flight found expression in several rational but unscientific designs, though he did not attempt to construct any of them.
The discovery of hydrogen gas in the 18th century led to the invention of the hydrogen balloon, at almost exactly the same time that the Montgolfier brothers rediscovered the hot-air balloon and began manned flights. Various theories in mechanics by physicists during the same period of time, notably fluid dynamics and Newton’s laws of motion, led to the foundation of modern aerodynamics, most notably by Sir George Cayley.
Balloons, both free-flying and tethered, began to be used for military purposes from the end of the 18th century, with the French government establishing Balloon Companies during the Revolution.
The term aviation, noun of action from stem of Latin avis “bird” with suffix -ation meaning action or progress, was coined in 1863 by French pioneer Guillaume Joseph Gabriel de La Landelle (1812–1886) in “Aviation ou Navigation aérienne sans ballons”
Experiments with gliders provided the groundwork for heavier-than-air craft, and by the early-20th century, advances in engine technology and aerodynamics made controlled, powered flight possible for the first time. The modern aeroplane with its characteristic tail was established by 1909 and from then on the history of the aeroplane became tied to the development of more and more powerful engines.
The first great ships of the air were the rigid dirigible balloons pioneered by Ferdinand von Zeppelin, which soon became synonymous with airships and dominated long-distance flight until the 1930s, when large flying boats became popular. After World War II, the flying boats were in their turn replaced by land planes, and the new and immensely powerful jet engine revolutionised both air travel and military aviation.
In the latter part of the 20th century the advent of digital electronics produced great advances in flight instrumentation and “fly-by-wire” systems. The 21st century saw the large-scale use of pilotless drones for military, civilian and leisure use. With digital controls, inherently unstable aircraft such as flying wings became possible.
East Coast Aviation Museums
An aviation museum, air museum, or aerospace museum is a museum exhibiting the history and artifacts of aviation. In addition to actual or replica aircraft, exhibits can include photographs, maps, models, dioramas, clothing and equipment used by aviators.
Aviation museums vary in size from housing just one or two aircraft to hundreds. They may be owned by national, regional or local governments or be privately owned. Some museums address the history and artifacts of space exploration as well, illustrating the close association between aeronautics and astronautics.
Many aviation museums concentrate on military or civil aviation, or on aviation history of a particular era, such as pioneer aviation or the succeeding “golden age” between the World Wars, aircraft of World War II or a specific type of aviation, such as gliding.
Aviation museums may display their aircraft only on the ground or fly some of them. Museums that do not fly their aircraft may have decided not to do so either because the aircraft are not in condition to fly or because they are considered too rare or valuable. Museums may fly their aircraft in air shows or other aviation related events, accepting the risk that flying them entails.
Some museums have sets of periodicals, technical manuals, photographs and personal archives. These are often made available to aviation researchers for use in writing articles or books or to aircraft restoration specialists working on restoring an aircraft.
Newfoundland and Labrador
- North Atlantic Aviation Museum, Gander
- Greenwood Military Aviation Museum, Greenwood
- Shearwater Aviation Museum, Shearwater
- Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum, Halifax Regional Municipality
- Musée de la Défense aérienne, CFB Bagotville
- Vintage Wings of Canada, Gatineau
- Canadian Aviation Heritage Centre, Macdonald Campus, McGill University, MontréalUNITED STATES
- Connecticut Air and Space Center, Stratford
- National Helicopter Museum, Stratford
- New England Air Museum, Windsor Locks
- Maine Air Museum, Bangor, Maine
- Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owls Head, Maine
- College Park Aviation Museum, College Park, Maryland
- Glenn L. Martin Maryland Aviation Museum, Middle River, Maryland
- Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, Lexington Park, Maryland
- Massey Air Museum, Massey, Maryland
- The Collings Foundation, Stow, Massachusetts
- Massachusetts Air and Space Museum, Bedford, Massachusetts
- Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, Londonderry, New Hampshire
- Air Victory Museum, Lumberton, New Jersey
- Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of New Jersey, Teterboro, New Jersey
- Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, Cape May, New Jersey
- 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum, Geneseo, New York
- American Airpower Museum, East Farmingdale, New York
- Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, New York
- Empire State Aerosciences Museum, Glenville, New York
- Floyd Bennett Field Administration Building Visitor Center, Brooklyn, New York
- Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, Hammondsport, New York
- Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, New York, New York
- Ira G. Ross Aerospace Museum, Buffalo, New York
- National Soaring Museum, Elmira, New York
- Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Rhinebeck, New York — founded 1958, a living museum
- Wings of Eagles Discovery Center, Elmira, New York
- 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum, Fort Bragg, North Carolina
- Carolinas Aviation Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina
- Hickory Aviation Museum, Hickory, North Carolina
- Museum of Life and Science, Durham, North Carolina
- North Carolina Aviation Museum Hall of Fame, Asheboro, North Carolina
- North Carolina Transportation Museum, Spencer, North Carolina
- Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
- Quonset Air Museum, Quonset Point, North Kingston, Rhode Island
- Patriots Point, Charleston, South Carolina
- Experimental Balloon and Airship Museum, Thetford, Vermont
- National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
- List of aircraft in the Smithsonian Institution