Dallas has not one but two flight museums. One is the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, near Addison Regional Airport, and the other is Frontiers of Flight Aviation Museum close to Love Field Airport. Both are very interesting, however, the Cavanaugh museum is almost exclusively devoted to military aviation, and Frontiers of Flight includes commercial aviation.
Frontiers of Flight started as a collection at Love Field main terminal building in 1988. Due to increasing public interest, the authorities decided to build the museum we see today. The collections are organized in chronological order, from Leonardo Da Vinci’s inventions to space exploration.
Let me show you around.
For the longest time, African-American soldiers were excluded from leadership roles. In 1940, thanks to the pressure from civil rights groups and the African-American press, black pilots were allowed to fly fighter planes. An all-African-American squadron was formed in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 9141. These pilots, who fought in World War II, are known as the Tuskegee Airmen, and an exhibition is dedicated to them.
There are many military aircraft on display, both originals and replicas, used for fighting and training in different decades. One of the strangest things I’ve seen is the Flying Pancake prototype. To me, it looks more like a manta ray than a pancake! It was developed in 1941 for the US Navy but was never used.
Fans of space exploration will recognise the Apollo VII commando module. The Apollo VII was the first manned flight of the Apollo programme (Sorry, Laika!) Three astronauts flew this spacecraft from 11 to 22 October 1968. I was shocked by how tiny the module was inside, and the fact that the astronauts lay on what looked like canvas stretchers. I thought that the damage to the paint was sustained when the module entered the atmosphere. But no. it was perfectly fine until a TV crew shot a documentary and light from the super strong TV spotlights burned the paint.
One of the displays is devoted to the US Post Office. The USPS practically created commercial aviation in 1918 when they started to deliver mail by air. Back then, passenger travel was almost non-existent.
Southwest Airline, ‘born and bred in Dallas” in 1971 with just three planes, has become the world’s largest low-cost carrier. The company also has the largest fleet of Boeing 737. Their first 737-300, the Spirit of Kitty Hawk, is on display here. I had lots of fun pretending to serve chicken or pasta (I was by myself, otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it). Nearby, the nose section of a 737-200 allows a detailed view of its avionics bay and flight deck.
Do you remember Braniff Airlines? I do! I seem to remember seeing Braniff merchandising at home. The company operated from 1928 to 1982. They flew within the US first and expanded to the Americas, Asia, and Europe in the 1970s. The display cabinets are full of handwritten boarding cards, first class menus and china (actual, real china!), Braniff dolls, among other things. A series of mannequins wear the flight attendants’ uniforms through the different decades. Braniff hired Emilio Pucci to design them at one point, and you can certainly tell which ones are his.
I visited the museum on a regular weekday, it was rather empty. It’s quite popular with families with kids and for school trips. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for 65 and over, $7 for kids between 3 and 17. It opens Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 am and Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm. There isn’t a cafeteria but there are vending machines and a seating area with tables.
6911 Lemmon Avenue, Dallas