The EAA Aviation Museum specializes in antique, experimental, classic, and warbird aircraft. Situated in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the facility is in close proximity to the museum’s sponsoring organization, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Open all year round, this two-story museum features more than 200 aircraft and 20,000 artifacts in both indoor and outdoor settings. Displaying historically significant aircraft that have carried both military personnel and civilians, the extensive array of exhibits also showcases racing, stunt, vintage, and homebuilt aircraft.
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The EAA was founded in 1953, when a group of local Milwaukeeans got together after bonding over a shared love of building airplanes. Over time, the EAA’s mission widened to include helicopters, ultralights, warbirds, antiques, classics, and contemporary aircraft. In 1958, Paul Poberezny put forward the idea of the EAA Museum Air Education Center. His son, Tom Poberezny, then continued with the idea and in 1983 the EAA Aviation Museum was born.
Eagle Hangar: A Tribute to The Greatest Generation showcases multiple exhibits dedicated to World War II. Centered on the Allied servicemen and women from over 50 countries who lost their lives during the conflict, Eagle Hangar also includes exhibits from Japan and Germany. Examples of the aircraft found in Eagle Hangar are the celebrated British-designed 1941 North American XP-51 Mustang-NX51NA fighter aircraft, the “Flying Jeep” 1944 Stinson L-5E-1VW Sentinel-N9658H, and the Messerschmitt/Hispano Buchón HA1112-M1L-N109BF, built by Hispano Aviatión in Seville, Spain.
Pioneers of Flight displays the many narratives of early aeronautical design dating back to the early 20th century. It includes a tribute to the Wright brothers with a replica of the first heavier-than-air powered aircraft to successfully be flown in controlled flight, the 190.Wright Flyer. Other notable pioneers featured within this exhibit are Warren Rasor, with his Rasor 21 Balloon Basket from 1909, and Charles S. Bates’ 1912 Bates Monoplane.
The Homebuilt Airplanes & Van’s RV section celebrates 15 classic homebuilt aircraft. This exhibit includes a special dedication to Dick VanGrunsven, whose Van’s Aircraft company was founded in 1973. The company achieved recognition by modifying a Stits Playboy to create the Van’s Aircraft RV-1 in the 1960s, and then went to become the worlds leading kitplane manufacturer. Further classic homebuilts on display are the 1950s Taylor Aerocar, the Stits DS-1 Baby Bird, and a Pietenpol Air Camper with a Ford Model A engine.
The Innovations Gallery is a special exhibition found within the Homebuilt Airplanes & Van’s RV exhibit. It celebrates cutting edge aviation achievement through a selection of what were once state-of-the-art aircraft. A notable name in the exhibit is Burt Rutan, an acclaimed American aerospace engineer who designed energy-efficient and light aircraft using homebuilding technology.
The SpaceShipOne exhibit highlights flight accomplishments and pioneering designs by members and non-members of the EAA. This exhibit uses a SpaceShipOne replica with lighting and sound effects as well as rare video footage to give an account of the mission into space in 2003. Every hour on the hour the spacecraft folds upwards, displaying its ability to counteract overheating when it re-entered the atmosphere using its innovative design.
The Antiques & Classics section features artifacts and aircraft from aviation’s golden age. Including groundbreaking designs, such as the 1931 Pitcairn PCA-2 autogiro and the 1933 parasol-wing Davis D-1-W, this exhibit celebrates innovation over the decades.
The Air Racing & Acrobatics exhibit illustrates the post-World War I enthusiasm for air races. Featured is the Air Racing Gallery, highlighting classic air racers, airplanes, and artifacts. The Acrobatic Gallery displays one of the best collections of aerobatic airplanes in the world alongside the MaxFlight Simulator, which allows visitors to step onboard and control the world’s first fully acrobatic flight simulator.
The KidVenture Gallery provides aviation-themed interactive displays and hands-on activities for younger visitors as well as a scenic viewpoint from the Tower of Flight, while the Raptor Gallery consists of 16 hands-on and interactive exhibits on the most advanced airplane in the world, the F-22 Raptor.
Ongoing Programs and Education
The museum runs a diverse school program for grades K-12. The lessons are taught by professional educators from the museum and although topics vary per age group, each lesson shares the same components of theoretical learning and practical application. Boy and Girl Scout programs can also take part at the EAA Aviation Museum, with participants pursuing a range of aviation badges on offer. The Young Eagles Program is open to youths aged 8-17, and its mission is to provide youths with their first ride in an airplane for free. Annual scholarships and summer internships are also offered by the EAA.
3000 Poberezny Rd, Oshkosh, WI 54902, Phone: 920-426-4800