If you’ve got a curious kiddo who likes to explore and create through science, engineering and technology, you need to put the The Museum of Flight’s new interactive aerospace exhibition, Above and Beyond: The Ultimate Interactive Flight Exhibition, on your family’s flight plan. This traveling installation is here through September 10 and is an excellent way to engage your future aerospace designer or engineer and learn about flying and building airplanes and what it takes to work in aeronautics.

Flying with the Geese_museum of flight

photo: Kelly Doscher

Up, Up and Away!
When you walk into the exhibit one of the first things you will see is the Spread Your Wings installation… at first glance, it looks like a giant screen. (Cue the vacuum sound.) Once your kids’ eyes have popped back into their heads, they’ll fall in line and stand on one of the giant dots on the carpet, as they’ve inadvertently been trained to do since kindergarten. Here’s where the interaction begins. Once someone stands on dot, the programmed exhibit reads and projects the movements of that person on the screen and then prepares them to fly with a gaggle of geese. An announcer’s voice instructs the soon-to-be flyers to roll, pitch and yaw as they fly in the formation of a skein of geese—the symmetric V-shaped flight formation of flights of geese, ducks, and other migratory birds. Psst! Younger ones might not understand how flying works or why flying in a V-formation conserves energy, but all of the arm flapping and interest in getting the challenge of the “game” right is a fantastic moment that can spark interest to learn more.

flight_simulator_museum of flight

photo: Kelly Doscher

A Top Gun Moment
Have you ever built an airplane? OK, we know this is a loaded question living in Seattle, but if your kids haven’t, now they can! The Full Throttle attraction is a two-step program that allows you to build a plane—select a body type, wings, tail, color, country code and a personalized three-digit tail number—then fly your plane through an in-air obstacle course.

Each of the three screens’ flights is person-specific, allowing the builder to fly the plane he or she just built and accurately replicate how that plane would fly in real life. Boeing test pilot and former US Nave test pilot, Mike Bryan—on hand to coach and inform young flyers at a recent visit—says, “the program that is used for this simulator is the same that he and his teammates use when working on Boeing projects… but clearly more simplified.”

above and beyond museum of flight

photo: The Museum of Flight

Reach for the Sky                                       
At the cusp of the exhibition, between the flight simulator and The Flight Zone, is, in our opinion, the best interactive installment of ’em all. And it’s called Dreams Aloft. There’s a video loop that shows young aerospace employees talking about what they do, what their interests are (think math, drawing and flying panes) and how they see their work helping people. The interactive element of this stop allows visitors to create video animation of their own dreams for the future of aerospace and launch them into a collective field of dreams. Psst! If meltdowns are on the horizon, save this one for another visit.

flight-zone-03

photo: The Museum of Flight

Know Before You Go
1. If you’re headed straight to the exhibit, be prepared for lots of oohs and ahhs on the way: you’ll be passing the main gallery, which is chock-full of impressive planes dangling from every which way.

2. Bring the little ones, for sure! But if their attention starts to wane, the newly renovated Flight Zone is just fifty paces to the southeast and it’s where the Littles will find really old planes (built in 1974!) whose cockpits are at the ready for little bums and whose struts still work with the push and pull of the joystick.

3. Museums can tucker out kids and parents alike and The Museum of Flight knows it. Take advantage of their Round Trip Ticket, a reduced ticket price that allows you to return to keep exploring and learning about planes, flying, innovations and our region’s rich aeronautic history.

4. Got a crew of hangry kids? Fuel up at Wings Café, an eatery inside the Museum that offers delicious food, refreshing beverages and an up-close view of the Boeing Field air traffic. Wings Café has an array of high-quality eats from quick snacks to hot entrees, perfect for refueling little tummies. Wings Café is open daily from 10 a.m.-5  p.m. and does not require admission to the Museum.

5. Thanks to Wells Fargo, on the first Thursday of every month, admission is FREE from 5 p.m.-9 p.m. and parking is always free. What’s not to like about that?

The Museum of Flight
9404 E. Marginal Way S.
Seattle, Wa 98108
Online: museumofflight.org
Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Open: Now through September 10, 2016
Cost: $21-$23/Adults; $18-$19/Seniors; $13-$14/Youth (5-17); $20/Active Military; 4 & under Free

Have you soared over to Above & Beyond? What was your favorite part? Tell us in the Comments below.

— Kelly Doscher