Become a Pilot

This year’s Innovations in Flight Family Day is over, but these are some of the types of activities you can look forward to next year.

Explore the engineering and design innovations that have taken place since flight began more than 100 years ago and participate in hands-on, STEM-based education activities and demonstrations.  


    • Outdoor Aviation Display
      See nearly 50 vintage, recreational, and home-built aircraft, and talk to the pilots about how and why they fly.
    • Vintage Car Display
      See vintage cars paired by era with the airplanes.
    • A United Airlines Boeing 777 You Can Enter
    • World War II Reenactors
  • Plant Your Own Victory Garden
  • Virginia Department of Aviation
  • Federal Aviation Administration Communications Support Team Emergency Response Vehicle


  • Ask Me About Drones!
    Presented by Roger Connor, Museum Specialist from the Aeronautics Department
  • “Horten 229” Ask an Expert Talk
    Presented by Russ Lee, Chair of the Aeronautics Department
  • Learn about the Wright Kite
    Presented by Tom Crouch, Senior Curator in the Aeronautics Department
  • Meet an Astronaut
    Presented by NASA astronaut Clay Anderson
  • Flights of Fancy Story Time and Hands-On Activity
    What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada


    • Experience hands-on learning through discussion and interaction with Discovery Stations and other activities.
    • Take part in a Paper Airplane Design Challenge.
  • Build and decorate your own sled kite.
  • Accept the Wind Tunnel Design Challenge.
  • Make a paper-copter.
  • Try a hands-on propeller activity.
  • Experience Glider Flight Simulators used in flight training with the Skyline Soaring Club.
  • Participate in Air Traffic Pattern Hands-on Activity for tots.


    • Talk with Jan Sylvester about Commemorative Air Force, National Squadron WWII memorabilia.
    • Learn more about Flight School Electronic Fieldtrip Partnerships with the Fairfax County Public Schools Fairfax Network.
    • Learn how to patent your ideas with staff from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
    • Take part in aviation talks, interviews, and podcasts with Airplane Geeks Radio Show.
    • Learn about careers in aviation with the U.S. Air Force Academy and Way of Life Alumni Group.
    • Discover more about the WACO Aircraft with the Museum’s Archives Department.
    • Talk with International Plastic Modelers Society members about the history of scale aircraft modeling.
    • Find out about “Partners in the Sky” with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute/Conservation Ecology Center of the National Zoological Park, Front Royal, VA.
  • Talk to U.S. Naval Academy Pilots about careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
  • Talk to Kashmir World Foundation staff about DaVinci Challenge: Build a Drone Workshops.


    • Dave Baranek, author of Top Gun Days
    • Col. Wolfgang Samuel, author of American Raiders, Coming to Colorado, German Boy, Glory Days, I Always Wanted to Fly, In Defense of Freedom, The War of Our Childhood, and Watson’s Whizzers
    • NASA astronaut Thomas D. Jones, author of Sky Walking, Hell Hawks, and Planetology
  • NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson, author of The Ordinary Spaceman: From Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut