By Jessica Godart
Since planes may not always be completely fun to look and stare at, the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly offers many activities designed for kids of all ages to participate and learn.
Flight Simulators: Experience the feeling of a barrel roll or the adrenaline of a jet with the numerous simulators that Udvar has to offer. The SpaceWalk 2004 3D allows kids to tour the International Space Station firsthand. Wings gives kids the opportunity to experience aerial combat in one of many choices of planes including a P-38, F-86 Super Sabre and F-5 Tiger. The cosmic coaster is a rollercoaster like no other with amazing views of the cosmos and space.
“Flight of Fancy” – Stories for Children: Brought to Udvar through the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, every day the center offers a story time for free for children with different stories told every week. From moustronauts to moon racing, planets and above kids love the time to sit and listen to the stories with a chance to take part in a fun hands-in activity afterwards, designed to go with the story being told that day.
Learning Labs: At the Claude Moore Education Center at Udvar kids from pre-K to 12th grade can take part in activities centered on the biggest moments in aviation and space history. For example, Pre-K to kindergarten attendees can learn about airplanes looks and features as well as about the Wright Brothers’ first flight. Third through eighth graders can design paper airplanes while learning about their center of gravity and flight stability. There’s an activity for any age through these labs.
Observation Tower: Feel like the king or queen of the world in the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower. This tower gives a 360-degree bird’s eye view of Dulles Airport and much of Chantilly, Herndon and Centreville. The 164-foot-tall tower is just a short elevator right straight up in the center where kids can watch planes land and take off at a great view.
Cessna 150 Airplane: Have your kids step inside a real 1977 Cessna 150 airplane used in World War II located in the Boeing Aviation Hangar at the center. Young kids are able to crawl inside the cockpit and get the real feel of being in a WWII training aircraft.
COMING SOON: The newest activity coming to Udvar-Hazy is the Smithsonian TechQuestion: Eye in the Sky Game where young kids ages 10-14 can learn the role of an intelligence analyst in the Cold War by trying to find a missing plane through information they gather about four objects in Udvar-Hazy. Very hands-on, the program involves secret codes and ciphers and includes hands-on activities for the kids.