The C.R. Smith Museum located in Fort Worth, Texas, honors Cyrus Rowlett Smith, former President of American Airlines and aviation pioneer. The museum was opened in summer of 1993 after two and a half years of fundraising and planning by American Airlines employees and volunteers, many of whom still work at the museum today.
The museum has undergone a few expansions including the addition of the DC-3 Hangar in 1999 that was built to house the 1940 Douglas DC-3 which revolutionized air travel in the mid-20th century. The latest renovation came in 2007 when the museum updated the History Circle which included a brand-new theater, the addition of several exhibits and artifacts related to the commercial aviation industry, and state-of-the-art video monitors.
The C.R. Smith Museum encourages hands on learning that immerses visitors in aviation history as soon as you walk through the doors. In the entrance is a bald eagle sculpture dedicated to C.R. that was created by Captain Zandy Carter with American Airlines. There is also a large globe that features the modern aircraft operated by American Airlines and American Eagle flying around the world.
Pursuit of Flight is the new 4KHD feature filmed that is being played in the theater. The movie covers the history of flight and man’s fascination with the sky. Visitors can learn the fundamentals of flight and the proprietors of aviation. Historical highlights from the first attempt at flight through the modern craft we use today are chronicled in this film that seeks to educate visitors on flight innovation and discovery of new technology.
Flightlab is an interactive experience for the entire family. There are computer simulators and games for visitors to participate in, wind tunnels and interactive displays that educate on aerodynamics and how planes can stay in the air.
Maintaining the Fleet focuses on the interworkings of airplanes and what it takes to engineer and work on them. There is an enormous General Electric CF6 engine from an McDonnell Douglas MD-11 that is on display.
More Permanent Exhibits
History Wall uses interactive video, games, and audio to present the history of aviation through collected and preserved artifacts. American Airlines history is featured in this exhibit also.
C.R. Smith Exhibit is home to all the photographs, awards, collected personal belongings, and history of C.R. Smith. The exhibit is presented as a biography of his life through displays. The history of the DC-3 is also presented here as Mr. C.R. was a prominent leader in the design of the aircraft.
1940 Douglas DC-3, Flagship Knoxville is the crown jewel of the museum. Purchased by The Grey Eagles, an American Airlines retirees group and fully restored, the aircraft was presented to the museum. The entire exhibit which included an entire hangar being built and added on to the museum was open to the public on February 22, 1999. The flooring of the hangar is unique in that it is comprised of etched bricks that were used to fundraise for the build. American Airlines also had an investment in the hangar and was instrumental in the project completion.
There are several special exhibits that C.R. Smith museum puts on every year that seek to educate visitors on, not only aviation, but other historical transportation histories.
Flight 1549: Miracle on the Hudson is the current special exhibit at the museum and educates visitors of the miraculous landing of Flight 1549 on the Hudson by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. The exhibition features a 50- foot linear panel that walks visitors through the quick decisions and actions that saved everyone on the flight that left La Guardia International Airport and emergency landed on the Hudson River in New York. This exhibition is originally part of a larger display at Carolina’s Aviation Museum where aircraft used in the rescue efforts are on display.
America’s Road: The Journey of Route 66 is a nod to highway culture in The United States and the great American Road trip. The historic route 66 is traveled by over a million people every year and holds over 100 years of history. The exhibit is comprised of photographs, stories, artifacts and other artistic images that represent the broad diversity of the 2,448 miles of highways through eight different states. The featured display of the exhibit is a photo essay by Russell Olsen who traveled to over 75 service stations, motor courts, diners and tourist traps on the highways.
More Special Exhibits
When the Earth Shakes will be opening the start of the new year 2017 and is one of the only exhibits that will not feature transportation. This exhibit is a 100% hands on experience that educates visitors on how earth quakes and tsunamis affect our infrastructure. There is a Quake karaoke platform and a seismogram that visitors can explore. An interactive Tsunami Tank challenges people to build a structure and place in on the “beach” in 16-foot tank where a large wave will be hurtled at the structure. The destruction is captured on video and builders can review the footage in slow motion to try to improve their design. History of the continents is also explored and visitors can learn about how the continents were all once part of one super landmass before tectonic plates made them drift apart.
Past special exhibition at C.R. Smith Museum include Lego Travel Adventure, Super Kids Save the World, Trivial Pursuit: A 50 State Adventure, and Zula Patrol to name just a few.
The C.R. Smith museum is dedicated to the education of children as well as adults in areas of transportation, specifically aviation. The Soaring through Science Education Department designs and implements the various programs offered throughout the year at the museum. Most of the activities are family friends, but there are a few specifically tailored for certain age groups such as children, high school students or senior citizens.
There are also outreach programs available that connect the museum to schools in Fort Worth so that educators can bring students to have an interactive learning experience on the fundaments of flight and the history behind the engineering, mechanics and science of aviation.
Eagle Aviation Camp is a week- long summer camp for grades 3 to 9 that immerses students in all thinks aviation. With specialized programs, museum tours, and many different interactive experiences, kids come away from this adventure with profound knowledge of flight and history of aviation. They will even learn exactly what it takes to become an aviator and meet aviation professionals from throughout the state of Texas.
Saturdays at the Smith offers family friendly programs every Saturday year- round. There are special presentations, demonstrations, lectures, interactive learning experiences and building activities. Parents and children can build and launch rockets, design gliders, and focus on not only the science and technology behind putting humans in the air, but the culture and history of aviation as well.
Scouting Programs are offered all year at the museum for Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Girl Scouts. There are aviation, science and technology badges that can be earned through programs designed in collaboration between troop or den leaders and The Soaring through Science Education Department at C.R. Smith museum.
The C.R. Smith Museum has over 35,000 square feet of event space that can be rented for corporate functions, weddings, birthday parties, fundraisers, banquets, meetings, and any other events where a large space is needed. Groups as large as 500 can be accommodated at the museum for a cocktail style reception or dinner seating for up to 350 guests. There is a state of the art theater outfitted with airline seats from first class that seats 100 and large screen presentation equipment available also. Guests are even invited to try out the flight simulator for a unique experience at your event.
Birthday Parties have rental times on Saturdays at either 10am or 1pm and events can last for two hours. Each event has a maximum capacity of 40 guests, adults and children included unless under two years old. If space is needed for a larger party, arrangements must be made well in advance and will require additional rental fees.
There is no food or drink allowed in the museum galleries, although there is a lounge with vending machines that visitors are welcome to take advantage of. There are no cafes or eateries on site.
There is free parking available in the museum parking lot located directly across the street.
The museum and all walkways and entrances are handicap accessible with wheel chairs able to be borrowed from the giftshop as well.
Visitors are encouraged to wear a jacket while at the museum. The temperature is kept cool due to preservation requirements for the many artifacts and aircrafts that are on exhibit. The museum also suggests that to avoid crowds, visitors come at open (9am) or two hours before close which is at 5pm.
There is an onsite giftshop as well as an online giftshop for guests who want to order mementos of their trip and have them shipped back home.
4601 Texas Highway 360 at FAA Road, Fort Worth, Texas 76155, Phone: 817-967-1560
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