Whether you’re an airplane fan, a history lover, or an armed forces veteran, you won’t want to miss your chance to visit the Tennessee Museum of Aviation. Located at the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport (GKT), this unique museum occupies a 35,000-square-foot hangar, where numerous airworthy warbirds and aviation artifacts are on display year-round.
Trace the history of flight back to the Wright Brothers on the museum’s Wave Wall, and watch aviation history come to life as you marvel at the military and civilian pilot uniforms, headgear, and flight instruments. Experience military history through a new lens as you peruse exhibits dedicated to major conflicts during World War II and beyond. Learn about the important role of United States Military Chaplains in the “Faith and Courage” exhibit.
After a tour of the exhibit gallery, visit the museum’s massive airplane hangar. Be sure to check out some of the rarest and most fascinating aircraft on display:
- Wright Brothers Glider: This full-scale replica gives you a sense of the Wright Brothers’ ingenious early aircraft, which dates from the early 20th century.
- Republic P-47D: These World War II-era fighters are incredibly rare, with fewer than a dozen airworthy examples still in existence. You’ll see two Thunderbolts at the Tennessee Museum of Aviation, and you might even see one take flight.
- North American T-28: Trojans have been used as trainer aircraft since the 1950s, but they took on important roles as counterinsurgency aircraft during the Vietnam War.
- Douglas A-1H: Also known as Skyraiders, these single-seat planes served as attackers for over 30 years. Don’t miss your chance to see one in person.
While many of the aircraft are restored originals, a select few are full-scale replicas, and others feature just the cockpit section. The museum typically has about two dozen aircraft on view in the hangar, but displays change somewhat frequently. You might even luck out and have the chance to see a rare warbird as it makes a limited-time appearance at the museum.
Whether you know a little or a lot about aviation, you’ll appreciate the opportunity to tour the museum with a docent. Many are veterans and can offer invaluable perspectives on the aircraft and their uses. Touring the museum with a docent is available for no additional charge. Just ask at the ticket desk or seek out a docent if you have any questions.
If you’re traveling with a big family group or a group of vets, be sure to call ahead. You’ll get reduced ticket prices and the option for a guided tour.
Since the Tennessee Museum of Aviation is located right on the GKT runway, you’ll frequently see the historic planes take flight. While all are airworthy, you’ll see the Thunderbolts, the Trojan, the Skyraider, and the Beech SNB complete demonstration runs more frequently. Call ahead to find out whether a demonstration flight is scheduled for the day, or give your group the chance to be surprised and in awe at the sight of vintage planes in flight.
- The Tennessee Museum of Aviation is open every day of the week, but note that it opens later on Sundays. Daily museum hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but the museum opens at 1 p.m. on Sundays. General admission is $12.75, senior tickets cost $9.75, military tickets cost $8.75, tickets for children 6 to 12 cost $6.75, and children under 6 can enter for free.