Museum of Flight’s new Aviation Pavilion set to open

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SEATTLE  –   Seattle’s Museum of Flight is spreading its wings and soaring into the future, with its biggest expansion in its 51-year-history.

The museum’s new Aviation Pavilion opens Saturday, just a short walk over the skybridge, on the other side of East Marginal Way next to the Space Shuttle Exhibit.

The new outdoor pavilion is the size of two football fields.

The huge, roofed, outdoor gallery will be home to a new exhibit featuring commercial flight.

“It’s nine stories tall, this building, and we slope down to about 50 feet on East Marginal Way,” said Trip Switzer, the Museum of Flight’s Vice President of Development.  “But we had to be that high to make sure the huge tail of the 747 got inside.  And we’ve packed ’em in here.”

At the exhibit, you’ll be able to see a rare Douglas DC-2 from the 1930’s, three World War II and Cold War-era bombers, the first 747 off the Boeing production line, and the Concord.

Also under the pavilion’s huge roof, the third 787 Dreamliner ever built.

There’s also an Air Cargo Indistry Exhibit that’s sponsored by Federal Express.  It’s housed within a 34-foot fuselage section of a former FedEx Boeing 727 freighter.  The exhibit is interactive, behind-the-scenes exploration into the world of air deliveries.

And when visitors get hungry or the little one get restless, there’s a new cafe, and a children’s play area with a mini-airport terminal right underneath the 747.

The new Aviation Pavilion is the biggest part of the museum’s “Inspiration Begins Here!” campaign.  Most of the funds used for construction came from generous donors.  More than a thousand people donated to the campaign.

Officials broke ground in April of last year.  15 months later, it’s ready to open to the public.

The pavilion provides much-needed covering for over 18 aircraft that were previously exposed to the Pacific Northwest elements.

Now the planes here will be available for viewing year-round.

The pavilion will also create more opportunities for educational programs for schools and young people.

“Everything we do here at the Museum of Flight is about bringing history, the first 100 years of Aviation History to the public,”  Switzer said.  “We’re in the heart of our education program with our summer camp.  And the youth around you today is why we do this.  It’s history to inspire future generations in our area.”