If you’ve had enough of the hustle and bustle of Ottawa’s downtown core, take a short drive east of the city towards national treasures and wonderful adventure at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum!
This expansive, hangar-like building is home to the most extensive aviation collection in the country, counting 86 fixed wing and three rotary wing aircraft. From the humble beginnings of flight to the sophisticated aerospace industry we know today, this museum is sure to delight the interested visitor to the fanatic aviator.
When you begin your journey into the world of flight, start in the museum’s “Pioneer Era” section, which is home to a model of Canada’s treasured aircraft –the A.E.A. Silver Dart. This fixed wing, three wheel aircraft was designed and piloted by J.A.D. McCurdy, who took it on the first airplane flight in Canada on February 23, 1909.
On its first flight, the silver-winged machine flew 30 metres before coming back down to the ground!
From here, wander over to the museum’s “Bush Flying” section to learn about a uniquely Canadian contribution to the world of flight.
“Bush” flying has been used over the years to refer to the flying that is done in adverse conditions in the most remote parts of Canada. See a Curtiss Seagull and a Fairchild FC-2W2 aircraft, while you learn about the conditions bush pilots deal with regularly in the Canadian North.
Most of Canada was connected by railways by the end of the Second World War, except for the North. This area however, with its many rivers and lakes, provided good landing strips for small, water-based aircraft in the summer and ski-equipped aircraft in the winter.
From here, see how British Commonwealth pilots were trained, along with airplanes from the First World War, the Second World War, as well as the airliners and helicopters we know and travel in today.
And while visiting the museum, don’t forget to see one of its most unique artifacts: the Hawker Typhoon IB.
This Second World War aircraft first took to the skies in 1942 as a mid- to high-altitude interceptor. The aircraft on display at the museum is the world’s only surviving Hawker Typhoon! It is currently on loan to Ottawa’s Aviation and Space Museum from the Royal Air Force Museum in the United Kingdom.
If outer space is more your focus, this museum does not disappoint!
The Canada Aviation and Space Museum is home to the famous Canadarm, which was first used in space on November 13, 1981. Designed to retrieve and release objects into space, this robotic arm positioned Canada as a key partner in the International Space Station. After 624 million kilometres (387 million miles), 944 work days and 30 years in space, the Canadarm completed its operations in July 2011.
You can also visit the museum’s interactive Living In Space exhibit. Through a variety of media, this high-tech exhibit allows visitors to learn about how astronauts live and work in space. See if you have what it takes to make it on the International Space Station!
If you want to experience the thrill of flight first hand, this museum is also home to several flight simulators. See what it’s like to pilot a little Cessna over a flickering city or try your hand at saving the world in a sophisticated fighter jet.
And if the flight simulators aren’t enough, why not get into a vintage biplane or a helicopter and take to the open Ottawa sky?
Either from the museum or online, you can book a ride in a vintage Waco UPF-7 open cockpit biplane from 1939!
With five different tours available, including a Parliament Hill Tour and a scenic Gatineau Hills Tour, you’re sure to have a memorable Ottawa experience. See how it is to fly through the air with the wind blowing through your hair. And don’t worry about bringing anything with you. Helmets and goggles are provided for this vintage flight experience.
Or if the constant hum of a helicopter is more what you’re after, book a flight in a Robinson R44. With flights ranging from six to 20 minutes, you can customize your aeronautical experience.
And with so many large-scale artifacts, it’s impossible for the museum to fit them all into one space. If you have the time, catch a guided tour of the Storage Wing.
Offered daily –once in the morning and once in the afternoon, this tour gets you behind the scenes, giving you access to the museum’s expansive storage hangar, which houses aircraft that are being restored or that cannot be displayed on the museum’s main floor. Among the stored treasures, see the de Havilland D.H. 98 Mosquito B XX, a vintage Air Canada DC-9 airliner and the wing tips of the infamous Avro CF-105 Arrow 2.
And before you leave, you’ll want to check out the museum’s boutique! From model airplanes, to bomber jackets, to aviator sunglasses, this shop is full of aviation garb.