In most of my museum reviews–in fact nearly all–I recommend that a visitor allow about one or two hours for his or her visit. Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum doesn’t require one or two hours–you’ll need more than that. There is so much to see, learn, and experience here that you may want to consider blocking out most or all of your day on your calendar.
OK, so in the interest of disclosure I’ll admit my bias. I am a former Air Force aircraft maintenance specialist, so I appreciate the subject matter of this beautiful museum. When I was in the Air Force, I bent wrenches and busted my knuckles while working in a hangar much like this one, a hangar with a floor so clean it seemed as if you could eat off of its floor. I worked on the T-38 Talon, known for the fact that, in its day, it was the only supersonic jet trainer in the world.
Located on the grounds of the former Lowry Air Force Base, this equally pristine, 150,000-square-foot, 1930s-era hangar, houses a unique collection of aircraft, rocketry, aviation related equipment, and memorabilia. Every exhibit has a story to tell and a purpose to its display. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress at the entrance only suggests what lies inside for you to see, learn, and experience.
The Red Baron
Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron, shot down 80 enemy aircraft. But, what most people don’t know is that he did not shoot down most of those aircraft while flying the Fokker Dr. I Triplane. Only 19 of his 80 victories occurred while he was at the controls of this iconic plane. I admit that I did not know this interesting fact, but learning something new to me is one of my motivations for visiting museums like this one.
There is no shortage of aviation related knowledge that you will gain from your visit. One display is devoted to the story of the Colorado Air National Guard; others talk about military aircraft nose art, ejection seats, avionics, and flight simulators. Speaking of flight simulators, have a museum guide help you test your flying skills while flying a simulator of the Wright Brothers first plane. I didn’t try it, but it does not look easy.
But the most visually impressive aspect of the museum is the aircraft collection. I did not count how many planes are housed there, but it is enough to keep you busy looking, reading, and learning. The emphasis is on military aircraft, but there are civilian aircraft as well.
The B-1 Bomber, the F-lll, the F-4, to name a few, are some of the iconic American aircraft that you will see. Sorry, no helicopters, but you can see a Titan IV Stage I rocket engine and a Titan IV Stage II rocket engine. In addition there is a memorial display devoted to astronaut Jack Swigert, Colorado’s first Apollo astronaut, as well as a display conveying the thoughts and careers of other Colorado astronauts.
In this review, I have only touched upon some of what this museum has for you to see. Take your self, take your friends, take your family, but most of all, take your time at this museum. There is just too much for you to see and explore to do anything less than spend most of a day here.