Let your imagination take flight and your spirit soar at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in St. Mary’s County. A showcase for naval aviation science and technology, the Lexington Park museum offers visitors a look at 100 years of flight, from test-pilot programs to outer-space adventures.
Walk around unescorted—or ask a member of the friendly staff for a tour—and be wowed by the WWII- and Vietnam-era flight gear, the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle exhibit, and the engines that make propulsion possible.
Check out the model-sized aircraft (kind of like a dollhouse for guys). Ask to view Jim Lovell’s Ambassador of Exploration award.
Learn the history of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station and the rest of the area while you’re here, too, and don’t forget to walk the flightline for an up-close look at the aircraft display outside. It features a Joint Strike Fighter prototype, an AV-8B Harrier, an F-14A Tomcat, and many other impressive planes and helicopters.
Back inside, pony up a small fee and strap yourself into the flight simulator. For an hour, you’ll experience the sights and sounds of flight from the seat of a real cockpit. Take off, engage in a dogfight, and even land on a carrier (assuming you can manage it; it’s tougher than it looks).
Naturally, you’ll want to spend the drive home thinking up your perfect Top Gun name. You can use it during your next visit!
The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is located at Pegg Road and Route 235 in Lexington Park, adjacent to gate #1 of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. The museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.paxmuseum.com.