Frontiers of Flight Museum
32º 50′ 32″ N/ 96º 50′ 07″ W
The Frontiers of Flight Museum is spacious, well designed and welcoming with several aircraft as well as aerospace exhibits centered on the aviation history of the United States. The museum also has learning facilities and programs for the young. On the visit that is the subject of this post we observed the main floor (it has a nearly surrounding balcony) has a lofted ceiling at least three stories above had made space available for a large gathering later in the evening. The museum must be popular for meetings as a large one was occurring during the visit in the large second floor area between the main floor and adjoining wing which houses a children’s activity/discovery area (one where exercise accompanies learning) as well as an SR-71 flight simulator (display, not ride) and Southwest Airlines exhibits.
Since the museum is located at the southeastern corner of Dallas Love Field (DAL), home of Southwest Airlines, it is small surprise that Southwest Airlines is represented here, or even a sponsor. What may be a surprise is its presence which is large as it covers four decades of the airline’s history. Some of the exhibits are the Spirit of Kittyhawk Boeing 737-300 (nosed into the museum), another nose section of a 737 (which can be entered) as well as then-and-now ticket counter exhibits (quite entertaining for all ages).
The main part of the museum, as well as on the grounds, is saturated with aviation history from a replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s pyramidal parachute up to an F-16B “Viper” — not to mention professional scale models from the museum’s workshop (which can be easily viewed as well as visited on a moment’s notice) throughout, the Apollo 7 Command Module, missiles and aircraft from all eras of aviation. Lighter-than-air aircraft are also explained and accompanied by a striking exhibit from the tragic wreck of the Hindenburg (LZ-129) — the radio operator’s chair with small parts from the wreckage. The display plaque informs the chair survived the fire in good part due to the construction of the radio room which was necessarily (due to potential of electrical sparks) highly insulated from the rest of the ship.
An almost rare Chance Vought SSM-N-9 Regulus II missile is on the floor next to a Vought RF-8G Crusader under a Northrop T-38 Talon — with many more aircraft to explore by walking around them. Aside from those suspended from the ceiling all aircraft can be viewed up close as none are cordoned off.
The belle of the ball is the rare and recently restored Vought V-173 proof of concept aircraft known affectionately as the “Flying Pancake” by many, as well as “Zimmer’s Skimmer” after the designer. A post on the Flying Pancake is slated soon for publishing.
Particularly pleasing, though the entire museum is pleasing, is the Golden Age of Aviation area. A corner of the main hangar-like structure is dedicated to this era with exhibits on Adm. Richard Byrd, a large custom built model of a DC-3 in TACA airlines livery (which has to be seen to be believed as the detail is phenomenal) as well as much more from this era of adventure, daring and pioneering. It is no surprise that Amelia Earhart is featured in this area but how she is featured is, perhaps, novel. Amelia Earhart re-enactor Maxine Capua does Amelia with accuracy and energy. She entertaining and chock full of knowledge — when listening to her and asking her questions it is not hard to imagine yourself back in the Golden Age and talking with Amelia :)
The museum, of course, is east to get to since it is located on the Dallas Love Field property. Eating facilities have no need to be there and access for everyone is easy as well as carefully thought out — though, there is a pleasant seating area with drink vending machines within eyesight of the activity/discovery area.
Special note: our sincerest thanks to Marty and Jayne Davis for making this visit possible :)