Remember when airline travel was fun? A grand adventure filled with luxury and wonder? You could leave your shoes on and travel in style. That meant suits and skirts, not sweat pants. The “friendly skies” really were friendly. And the journey was as grand as the destination.
Remember? No? Well thankfully there is a place that does and you can visit it now.
The Flight Path Learning Center and Museum in Los Angeles is dedicated to showcasing the art of flying. Although the museum has only been open for the past twelve years, the contents within tell the story of eight decades of commercial air travel at one of the world's busiest airports: LAX.
Located on a real runway, the Flight Path allows you panoramic views of everything.You can spend hours watching planes arrive and take off on a real runway. A scanner blares real time flight updates from the airport's control tower. It's just like being an air traffic controller without the training and high pressure stress.
Inside the four plus rooms of the museum relics from many of the great airlines of the past are on display.
Anyone remember Eastern, Piedmont or PSA? One room is packed to the gills with hats, handbags and uniforms worn by decades worth of pilots, flight attendants and ground crew.
There are cabinets full of vintage glass and cutlery (yes, they used to give you knives on planes) from a more civilized time.
And model planes.
Lots and lots of model planes (including a super cool one of the now defunct Concord) are here ranging in size from hand held to 1/5th replicas. There is even a large scale model on display that was used in “Raiders Of The Lost Arc.”
Kids of all ages will love the free flight simulator that allows anyone take “Take Flight” in the cockpit of the plane of their choice. In the same room as the simulator you can peruse through old school poster racks full of vintage full sized one sheets advertising the exotic ports of call ranging from Bora Bora to Texas, Manila and New England.
One of the highlights for me in this amazing facility was being able to actually step out on the tarmac and board a vintage 1970s plane! The now grounded one time private charter is frozen in a “Graceland Worthy” 1970s design. Climb into the pilot's seat (I did.) No one is stopping you.
One might expect a visit to such a cool museum to cost you a pretty penny. Not so. The Flight Path is completely free! It's true. And although the museum does accept donations via a plastic container, no one there pressures, or even mentions it.
They don't have a gift shop, but they do have a gift cart where you can buy logo branded hats ($10), mugs ($5) or balsa wood planes ($2.) And parking? Also free! Fans of retro cool travel have to visit The Flight Path. It's a helluva cool trip!