A new aviation attraction in Colorado is making it possible to follow through on unfulfilled wishes of becoming a pilot.
Wings Over the Rockies Exploration of Flight opened at the former Lowry Air Force Base over the summer. And its mission is not only to teach visitors about the history of aviation but to train and excite the next generation of airplane and rocket ship pilots.
The Boeing Blue Sky Aviation Gallery is located on Denver’s Centennial Airport campus and sprawls across more than 19,000 square feet. Inside, visitors can see iconic ships from aviation history, including a 1942 Douglas DC-3, Cessna 172 Skyhawk and a Boeing Stearman Bi-Plane from 1936.
But perhaps the most alluring feature of the museum is the fact that visitors can get into the cockpit of a plane themselves. Sort of. The museum is home to several FAA-certified flight simulators that make visitors seem like they’re piloting aircraft like a Cessna 172 or 182.
To really excite the next generation of pilots, mechanics and air traffic controllers, you have to get kids into the cockpit early and help them find something that feels right to them," Ben Theune, the organization's director of marketing, told Travel Weekly.
According to several university and industry estimates, the U.S. aviation industry is facing a major pilot and technician shortage that could seriously affect commercial airlines by 2020.
Overall, the campus will attempt to encourage the next generation of pilots with a charter school, training programs and future expansion to Wings Over the Rockies.
But you don’t need to be considering a future in aviation to visit. Just liking planes is enough to get you through the door and into the cockpit.