【Misawa】Misawa Aviation & Science Museum, Aomori – From pioneering airplanes to the latest technology in Honda jets
During my 3-day, 2-night trip to Aomori, where I wanted to visit the most was “Towada Art Center”. I wanted to see the architecture designed by Ryue Nishizawa and the works of famous artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Yoshitomo Nara, Kohei Nawa, Chiharu Shiota, and Ron Mueck. That was the reason I decided to go to Aomori.
Because I decided to visit Towada Art Center on the first day, to get to Aomori prefecture, I chose a flight to Misawa airport, so I can reach to Towada city in an hour drive. Actually, Shichinohe-Towada station (Tohoku bullet train line) is the closest to Towada city as just 20-minute drive but because I was with my 2-year-old daughter, I thought the airplane was better for us as the duration is much shorter (airplane: 75 minutes, bullet train: 3 hours and more).
The travel duration was shorter than bullet train but still it was boring time for a kid. Thus I decided to go to “Misawa Aviation & Science Museum, Aomori”, just a 5 minutes drive from Misawa airport, to entertain my daughter during our memorable Aomori trip. As you can imagine, I visited the Misawa Aviation & Science Museum, Aomori without much thought, but it was good… I think the adults actually enjoyed it more than my daughter.
Aomori Prefectural Misawa Aviation & Science Museum, Aomori opened in 2003 with the theme of “sky” & “flying” and with the philosophy of “fostering a scientific mind, an inspiring mind, and a challenging mind”.
Aomori Prefecture has been deeply involved in aviation, one of the pinnacle of human science and technology, since its pioneering days, and is blessed with aviators and historical facts originating from Aomori Prefecture. With the hope that Aomori Prefecture will once again shine with new brilliance, the museum aims to disseminate the role that Aomori Prefecture has played in the world’s aviation history, and convey future prospects of science and science and technology.
The museum’s exhibits are divided into three zones: “Aviation Zone Exhibition”, “Science Zone Exhibition”, and “Space Zone Exhibition”.
Aviation Zone Exhibition
Let’s start with the Aviation Zone Exhibition! It is an aviation museum that introduces the history of aviation related to Aomori Prefecture. As we entered the first exhibition room, we saw a red airplane on display. This is the Miss Beadle, the plane that made the world’s first non-stop flight across the Pacific Ocean (Misawa to Washington) in 1931. The flight time was 41 hours – wow! In order to make the aircraft as light as possible, the wheels had to be detached during the flight to prepare for a fuselage landing, a dangerous operation, and the engine had to be stopped. Incidentally, the fuselage was loaded with 18 oil drums of fuel.
Miss Beadle’s pilots were Americans Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Herndon. The villagers gave them dozens of apples from Misawa as a “souvenir”. It’s said that the apples had encouraged them throughout the flight. The success of the historic flight was also due to the cooperation and support of the dedicated people of Misawa village, who helped with everything from runway maintenance to accommodation and gasoline arrangements. Because of this connection, Misawa City and Wenatchee City in Washington State, where the two men landed, continue to interact as sister cities.
After passing through the Miss Beadle exhibition room, you will reach a large space. Here you will also find the Narahara Type 2, Japan’s first airplane with an engine, and the YS-11, the first passenger plane developed by a Japanese manufacturer after World War II.
If you go to further exhibition room, there is a “HondaJet”, which made its maiden flight in 2003 and went into mass production in 2012. There are currently about 170 of them in operation around the world and HondaJet has been ranked number one in the world in the small jet category for four consecutive years! It’s the first time in the world that an automobile manufacturer has developed its own engine.
The stylish and good-looking fuselage has an innovative design in which the engine is located on the upper surface of the wing. This eliminates the need for an engine support mechanism in the fuselage, thus maximizing space utilization. The cockpit is equipped with a high-resolution display and two touch-screen controllers, making it easy for the pilot to operate.
The aircraft on display is a technology demonstrator that was first manufactured as an experimental aircraft, successfully completed its first flight in 2003, and made its world premiere in 2005 at the “EAA AirVenture Oshkosh”, the world’s largest air show.
Science Zone Exhibition
The Science Zone Exhibition is divided into several fields. There is the “Active Field,” where you can learn about various sciences by seeing, hearing, touching, and moving your body; the “Techno World,” where you can learn hands-on about the principles and mechanisms of flight; and the “Discovery Land,” where you can explore the phenomena that occur in the sky surrounding the world of flight and the natural energy behind them, in order to learn about flying things in the natural world and the mechanisms of flight. Discovery Land” explores the phenomena that occur in the sky surrounding the world of flight and the natural energy behind them.
I experienced the Probe IV, a vehicle that uses the power of air to levitate and descend. The power of compressed air causes the seat in the tube to levitate, and by pulling out the air, it descends. This compressed air is used in airplane jet engines.
In addition to this, you can also experience gravity, feel the gravity of the moon, pilot experience, and many more. For each experience, you get a number from the panel in front of the machine, and when your turn comes, you can experience it. I went on a Sunday morning, and most of the experiences were available after waiting for a few groups. However, I couldn’t do the “roller-zipping” that I wanted to do the most because the morning reservations were already booked out. It was a shame because it looked like a very fun attraction where you fly over the aircraft on display with rails on the ceiling.
Space Zone Exhibition
The “Space Zone Exhibition” on the second floor was newly established after the renovation in April 2021 with the aim to create a future where space will become more familiar to visitors, while feeling the thoughts of people who continue to challenge space exploration and earth observation. Here, you can enjoy the exhibition of a life-size model of the asteroid probe “Hayabusa2” and experience weightlessness in the equipment used by astronauts for training.
There were space suits, rockets, and a one-fifth scale model of the Lunar Cruiser, which is being jointly developed by JAXA and Toyota Motor Corporation, and as someone who has read the manga “Space Brothers,” I was very excited to see this area.
There is also the Zero Gravity 360, a 360-degree rotating device used by astronauts for training, where you can actually experience weightlessness.
The Aomori Misawa Aviation & Science Museum, Aomori is also adjacent to the Misawa Ozora (big sky) Plaza, which has aircraft displays and playground equipment that even small children can enjoy.
I didn’t have high expectations when I visited this place, but it was a wonderful spot for adults, children, and aircraft enthusiasts to enjoy, even if you don’t have such a deep interest in the subject. Especially if you are an aircraft fan, you can easily spend half a day there. If you are ever in the Misawa area, I highly recommend a visit.
Misawa Aviation & Science Museum, Aomori
Address ：158 Oaza Misawa Kitayama, Misawa-shi, Aomori
Opening Hour ：9:00～17:00 (Last entry 16:30)
Close ：Every Monday (the next day if it is a national holiday) / December 30-January 1 of the following year
*** In addition to the above, the museum may be closed for maintenance, etc., so please check the closed days.
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