The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum Patuxent River, MD

Maryland’s Naval Air Station Patuxent River is where airplanes are flight tested before they gain entry to the fleet. New planes — or any plane that is modified to, let’s say,  carry a new weapon — are handed over to Patuxent River test pilots who put them through the paces here until the Navy sees fit to OK them for the fleet.

Located in southern Maryland two hours out of Washington DC, The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is a beautiful new facility with a curvaceous roofline and plenty of interior space for a riches of exhibits.  There are cockpits to sit in, simulators to fly, a collection of ejection seats, displays on the rigors of  carrier evaluations, a scale model of the headline-grabbing X-47 Pegasus unmanned jet, plus one of the X-35C concept planes, predecessor to the F-35C Lightning Joint Strike Fighter now at Patuxent River for testing.

The outdoor display area is called the Flight Line and it has 22 ever-so-familiar Naval aircraft, all turned into test aircraft painted with those distinctive orange wingtips and tails.  Well known planes include the F-4 Phantom, the F-15 Tomcat and the F/A-18 Hornet but also on display is an E-2 Hawkeye, an S-3 Viking, an S-2 Tracker, an F9F Cougar, an F-4 Skyray and a A5 Vigilante, among others

Located just outside the gates of the air station, the Pax River Museum lets you get up close to this special breed of aviator and the history of naval flight testing. Spend some time here. Take a moment to contemplate the audacious idea of compressing a 7,500-foot land-based concrete runway into a carrier deck the size of a postage stamp. Souvenirs are available in the gift shop.

Hours:    Tuesday – Saturday:  10am – 5pm

Sunday:  12pm – 5pm

Closed:  Monday

Visit museum website

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