Take a stroll through the Lone Star Flight Museum, and you're getting a boarding pass back in time to the golden age of aviation history.
The Lone Star Flight Museum is home to over 40 historic aircraft, many of which were flown by the greatest generation during World War II. What makes the iconic warbirds so rare is that they still fly.
"We fly almost every weekend, weather permitting, with our T6s and our Stearman trainers," said Col. Chris Richardson, Chief Operating Officer at Lone Star Flight Museum.
You can even soar through the skies in one of the warbirds yourself. Lone Star Flight museum offers flight experiences in the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, the North American B-25 Mitchell, the North American T-6 Texan, the Boeing PT-17 Stearman, the Fairchild PT-19 Cornell and the Cessna T-41 Mescalero.
"It's tremendous," said Col. Richardson. "I've never heard anyone say they didn't have a fabulous time or a life altering experience in one of our warbirds."
It was just a few years ago that all of the museum's vintage aircraft left their original home in Galveston and flew to their new home, at Ellington Airport.
"Hurricane Ike essentially ran us out of Galveston," said Col. Richardson. "The airplanes that are here are the ones that were able to fly off of the island and to save them from the storm. It was decided that because we have a flying collection that we need to be at an airport."
When the new, $38 million state-of-the-art facility was opened, the aircraft became part of a much larger mission, which includes educating and inspiring the aviators of the future.
In the museum's Aviation Learning Center, students in grades 5-12 get a taste of what flight school is like. The STEM-based program allows students to create their own flight plans, then test out whether they have the right stuff in a real-world simulator.
"These are actual flight simulators," said Col. Richardson. "They're not video games. They don't fly like video games. They actually fly like a regular airplane would."
Future aviators can also take a stroll through the museum's interactive Flight Academy, where they will learn about the principles of flight and aircraft design. Some of the hands-on displays in the Flight Academy include replica cockpits and hang-glider simulators.
History also takes flight in the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame. As you step inside, you will get to know some of the innovators, pioneers, entrepreneurs and war heroes who shaped the world of aviation.
"To be in the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, there are two requirements," said Col. Richardson. "You have to be a Texan who was an aviator or an aviator who was a Texan. It was certified by the 74th Congressional Legislature of Texas as the official Texas Air Aviation Hall of Fame."
Among the 75 individuals honored in the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame are President Dwight Eisenhower, President George H.W. Bush, President George W. Bush, Apollo 13 Flight Director Gene Kranz, Apollo 13 Commander James Lovell, and former NASA Flight Director Chris Kraft.
The Lone Star Flight Museum also offers summer camps, scout programs and field trips for students.
Click here for more information on the Lone Star Flight Museum.