From vintage passenger planes to shiny propeller planes, the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada is the place to go for the plane lover in your life. Even if you're not a plane aficionado, you won't be able to help but marvel at the sheer size, scale and complexity of these winged machines.
Of course, for the littlest ones among us, planes hold an entirely different level of magic, mystery and marvel--how do those things get into the sky anyway?--and the aviation museum is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with your family.
1. Watch the Planes
While it might seem obvious, the museum's close proximity to the airport is one of its clear assets. Just standing in the parking lot, you can get tantilizingly close to the real working planes that make their home at the Winnipeg James Armstrong International Airport and its surrounding hangars. Head inside the museum to the second floor where a viewing lounge with a large picture window will let you watch planes land and take off to your heart's content.
2. Get Playful
The second floor of the museum also boasts an aviation themed playground for little ones. Climb aboard the mini airplane, go for a whee on the slides, fly your own mini planes and helicopters and just let the kids burn off some energy as they explore the workings of this fun and engaging space.
3. Create a little airplane magic
On special days, extra programming like creating your own paper airplane allows kids to learn this time-honoured paper tradition and then try their hand at making their creation fly through hoops and trees. Down in the hangar, a game of 'paper airplane' gold awaits.
4. Hang in the Hangar
It's time for the heart of it all--the main hangar where dozens and dozens of planes from massive passenger planes to northern-ready behemoths to tiny bush planes cover the floors in the huge airy space. Learn about crafts like the Avrocar, and its storied Canadian history, as well as the Junkers JU-52, known as the 'Flying Boxcar', it transported heavy freight, was made of corrugated metal and was the largest aircraft in the world during its time.
Kids can explore the space while switching knobs on various control panels as they imagine what it might be like to fly.
5. Hop Aboard
Dwarfing many of the planes in the hangar, is the Vickers Viscount 757. It was introduced into scheduled service in 1955 from Montreal and Winnipeg by Trans Canada Airlines (now Air Canada). This was the first scheduled turbine powered aircraft to be used in North America, thus ushering in a new age of jet travel and signalling the end of the piston engined airliner. The Viscount's speed and quietness quickly made it a favourite with passengers and crew and was the forerunner of the passenger planes we use today. Take a tour inside and (here, adults will probably note the wide seats, big windows and ample legroom of the good ol' days) catch a glimpse of airline history.
6. Go Shopping
What visit to a museum would be complete with a visit to the gift shop. This place has it all for the plane person in your life from hats and shirts to models and kits to books and toys, you'll be hard pressed to walk out without a souvenir. Coupled with kids begging for a treat, and it'll be pretty much impossible.