NC Aviation Museum and Hall of Fame: An Adventure in Aerospace
Be inspired by NC's aviation history and awed by classic planes
The Flitfire is the pièce de résistance of the planes on exhibit at the museum
Images by Larry T. Bower, Jr.
In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright proved that man could fly when their heavier-than-air flying machine took flight over the sands of Kill Devil Hills. Their accomplishment secured North Carolina the title “First in Flight” and prompted generations of North Carolinians to become involved in aviation-related ventures.
At the North Carolina Aviation Museum and Hall of Fame in Asheboro, families have an opportunity to learn about local and legendary fliers. They also have the chance to see a variety of airplanes up close. Established in 1996 by Jim Peddycord as the Foundation for Aircraft Conservation, the museum promotes “aviation awareness through a variety of tours and events designed for those from 7 to 97.”
Inside the museum, visitors are given a self-guided tour sheet that directs them to a number of fascinating exhibits. The airplanes are the big attraction, and of the handful on site, the Flitfire is the pièce de résistance. A special edition of the Piper J-3 Cub, this airplane was painted with the Royal Air Force insignia and used to raise funds for the British war efforts during World War II. In 1943, as part of a fundraising campaign, the airplane was flown by Orville Wright, a “father of modern aviation.”
Visitors can walk up to most of the airplanes on display and take a good look inside, while a few require climbing a step or two. Children will likely want to run up the steps to the Cessna 172 Skyhawk, as they are welcome to sit inside, plot their course and work the controls. Group tour guide Keith Hodgin says that without a doubt, the kids love the Cessna airplane best. One thing is for sure, the exhibit provides a great photo opportunity for both kids and adults.
In addition to manned aircraft, the museum also displays a unique unmanned aerial vehicle that was “used by The United States Coast Guard to provide maritime reconnaissance after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” The interesting aircraft is mounted on a pedestal, which allows visitors to see its camera port and video camera.
Other exhibits explore the history of women in aviation and the Tuskegee Airmen — America’s first black military airmen. A large collection of military artifacts that date from World War I to the Vietnam War also fill the museum and include vehicles, uniforms, photographs, medals, newspapers and other interesting memorabilia.
Once all has been seen, visitors should allow time to browse the Bob Moon Gift Shop. Not only does the store have a nice selection of souvenirs, but it is also home to “one of the largest collections of aircraft models in the southeast.”
The North Carolina Aviation Museum and Hall of Fame offers several special events throughout the year. Be sure to plan a visit on June 11, as it is the date of their Annual Fly-In. Vintage aircraft will be on site, as will antique automobiles and various food vendors. Visitors who attend the museum that day will not only be able to see more airplanes, but will also have the chance to speak with pilots, too. It is a fun event for all ages.
Since their invention, airplanes have had the ability to spark one’s imagination. As a young adult, Viola Gentry, the first federally licensed female pilot from North Carolina, happened to see a stunt pilot land his airplane on the roof of a hotel. At that moment, she envisioned herself at the controls and declared that she, too, would fly. A few years later, she did. Gentry later set the first officially recorded women’s solo endurance flight record and her name was recorded in the OX5 Aviation Pioneers Hall of Fame.
What might a child be inspired to do after he or she sees an airplane fly or takes hold of the controls in the cockpit? The possibilities are endless. After all, humans did learn to fly and there is no limit to what they can achieve.
The North Carolina Aviation Museum & Hall of Fame is located at 2222 Pilots View Road in Asheboro. For more information regarding hours, fees or the upcoming Fly-In, please visit ncaviationmuseumhalloffame.com or call 336-625-0170.
Tip: If you have time to spare after visiting the museum, you can take a short drive and see two “Triad Treasures” in one day. The Pisgah Covered Bridge, which spans the west fork of the Little River, is approximately ten miles from the North Carolina Aviation Museum & Hall of Fame. Built in 1911, it is one of two remaining covered bridges in North Carolina. The area around the bridge offers a picturesque setting, a picnic area and a short walking trail. For more information, please visit heartofnorthcarolina.com/things-to-do or call 336-626-0364.
Jennifer Bean Bower is an award-winning writer and Tar Heel native. She lives in Winston-Salem with her husband Larry and their pet rabbit Isabelle. To learn more about Bower and her writing projects, please visit her website at JenniferBeanBower.com. Connect with her on Twitter @JenniferBBower.