Florida Air Museum looks back at history of aviation

More than 25 aircraft on display at Lakeland museum

By Carolina Cardona - Reporter

LAKELAND, Fla. - Among the many attractions central Florida has to offer is one that offers visitors a look back in time.

Inside a 20,000-foot hangar, the Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum has more than 25 aircraft on display.
 
"We introduce them to aviation but also to pilots. They meet pilots from NOAA or our own pilots that work out here and when we have field trips that come in, we're able to do workshops with the kids," museum manager Jayme Jameson said.
 
There's a variety of vintage planes, others donated by the U.S. Navy, and smaller, lightweight aircraft built by aviation hobbyists at home.

"Florida has a really great aviation history because of the weather, a lot of people would come down here to fly because even before there was GPS, for example, they could take off from Orlando and they could go all the way to Jacksonville by following the St. John's River, we called it an air highway and if they could see the river, the could follow the railroad tracks," Jameson said. 
 
It's a place where experts and kids can indulge their love for aviation and learn about historical facts that paved the way for important people in the industry.

It's inside the Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Museum where a replica of a small plane designed by Neil Loving, an African American aeronautical engineer, designer and builder.
 
"It's a really good example of racing aircraft history, but also the history of racial development and segregation in the United States because the gentleman who built it originally was denied the ability to attend flight school because of his race," Jameson said. "So, he started off as a glider pilot and worked his way up."
 
The museum also showcases the story of billionaire pilot Howard Hughes, who set a world record for flying around the world in three days and who produced the movie 'Hell's Angels' using real airplanes.
 
"He didn't want it to look Hollywood fake, he wanted it to look real so he actually crashed an airplane purposely at the end of the movie so he would have the explosion and the effect that he wants," Jameson said.
 
For more about the museum's schedule and admission prices, click here.

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