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Field Trip: Frontiers of Flight Museum

Frontiers of Flight Museum 6911 Lemmon Ave. Dallas, 214/350-3600 flightmuseum.com
Hours: 10am–5pm Mon.–Sat., 1pm–5pm Sunday
Admission: $5 children 3–17, $8 adults, $6 seniors 65+, and children under 3 free.

“Mom, look – there’s a plane going through a building!” It’s not an illusion: An actual Southwest Airlines 737 is wedged into the side of the Frontiers of Flight Museum. The aircraft, named the Spirit of Kitty Hawk, was one of Southwest’s first planes to enter commercial service and is now the showstopper at the flight museum near Love Field. But there’s more to the museum than a giant plane.

The flight museum is full of artifacts such as old airline seats, vintage flight attendant outfits and wartime pilot gear divided among the different eras of flight. Docents are available to walk your crew through the museum, often using their own experiences as pilots to add real-life history lessons.

The museum’s Smithsonian Institution affiliation brings one-of-a-kind exhibits throughout the year. The latest to land is “At the Controls,” a display of huge cockpit images from history’s most famous aircraft and space vehicles, including the Space Shuttle Columbia and the B-29 Enola Gay, the first aircraft in history to drop an atomic weapon. The Apollo 7 capsule is also on loan from the Smithsonian. Children can climb onto a small platform and peek into the tiny compartment where three astronauts sat for NASA’s first manned mission into space.

Look low, look high – there are planes everywhere. The historic details might get lost on younger kids, but the cool factor remains. It’s as though toy planes suddenly become life-size. The bright yellow Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny” plane will draw your eyes and interest. More than 90 years ago it trained Army pilots at Love Field and recently returned to the area after a two-decade restoration process.

The only plane children can officially enter is the 737 (you know, the one flying into the building) located in the Southwest Airlines: The Heart of Our History exhibit. This large display area is like a mini-airport, complete with a 1970s replica ticket counter. Thinking of flying with the kids soon? This could make for a good practice run before you take to the skies, minus the airplane anxiety. Board the plane with the family, sit in the seats, and put the tray tables up and down with impunity. You don’t have to wait to get off this plane; exit to the left and stop by the popular children’s play area, equipped with a control tower that the kids can climb, the Blue Angel bounce house and the Jay Jay theater – a great place to put your kids’ curiosity in flight.