From the earliest airplanes flown in combat, through to planes with amazing stealth capabilities, the Hill Aerospace Museum is one of those “can’t miss” attractions when you’re anywhere near Salt Lake City. We saw the first signs for it several hundred miles before we arrived and were glad we had!
The museum covers about 30 acres on the northwest corner of Hill Air Force Base in Utah. You don’t, however, go onto the base to get to it, as we discovered on our visit. Our GPS directed us right up to the front gate of the Base where we were politely asked to show identification papers and surrender them until David drove around the gate and back out! The good thing about this, though, is that you don’t need a military Visitor Pass to visit.
So, back out to Interstate 15 (I-15) we went to take the next exit, which got us to the free parking lot, visitor center and hangars, and the enormous Douglas C-124 Globemaster II that’s pictured at the top of this page. Wow! David wasn’t much taller than its tires.
Visiting the Museum
Admission to Hill Aerospace Museum is free, making it a popular attraction for families on holidays. Open daily, from 9 pm to 4:30 pm, there’s lot of time to explore on your visit — we spent about three hours to go through all of the exhibits. You can visit any time of year, as the museum is open seven days a week year round, only closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
There are eight different exhibits that display about 20% of their 4000+ artifacts. So, the museum changes on a regular basis, making it exciting to visit year after year.
You start your journey through time with the Beginnings exhibit. A replica of the Burgess-Wright Model B Flyer occupies center stage here, taking you back to 1911. The plane itself, originally made by the first licensed manufacturer in the US, is 29 feet long and weighs a mere 1270 pounds. All I can say is that those early pilots were a lot braver than I am, when it comes to what they would leave the ground on!
Our Favorite Exhibits
We visit a lot of machine museums and usually find that the Cold War era planes are the most fascinating. That may be because we were children at the time and the visions of war were all too real with things like “duck and cover” practice at school, where we were all taught to curl up under our desks for protection at a bomb warning. Thankfully, the bombs never came, since there wouldn’t have been any protection under our desks anyway.
All of the planes in the Cold War exhibit are listed on the Hill Air Force Base website, so you can check out the details and see photos.
And if you want to see the beginnings of the jet age, the planes in the exhibit are listed here.
Our Favorite Plane
Our favorite — well, David’s favorite — plane was this Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. Likely everyone who loves speed and big engines will also be impressed with its World Speed record of 2,193.167 mph, and altitude of 85,068.997 feet, set July 28, 1976. The plane also set a New York to London record average speed of 1,806 mph on September 1, 1974, covering the distance in 1 hour, 54 minutes, and 56.4 seconds. It set its final record March 6, 1990, taking 1 hour, 4 minutes, and 19.8 seconds to fly from Los Angeles to Washington, DC, at 2,144 mph.
About Hill Air Force Base — Ogden, Utah
Hill Air Force Base was officially opened on January 12, 1940. Operations began at the base in November of that year. The base is named for Ployer Hill, who died October 30, 1945, testing the Boeing 299 (prototype of the renowned B-17 Flying Fortress). Piloting nearly every Army Air Corps aircraft between 1918 and 1935, this pioneer aviator was an engineer, aerial photographer and test pilot.
Check out the history of the Air Base on its website.
Getting to Hill Aerospace Museum
Get Museum information online at: http://www.hill.af.mil/Home/Hill-Aerospace-Museum/
The following map shows how to get to Hill Aerospace Museum from Salt Lake City. Click here to find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor about Hill Aerospace Museum.
About the Photo
The C-124 Globemaster II was used by Hill Air Force Base from 1953 to carry up to 200 troops. A hydraulic ramp in the nose and elevator under the fuselage even made it possible to haul tanks. This specific plane was assigned to the base in 1965. Its wingspan is 174 feet and length is 130 feet. It can attain a maximum speed of 271 mph at sea level and 230 mph at 10,000 feet.