Air & Space Museum opens immersive ‘Above and Beyond’ exhibit

Three people stand on circles and move their arms while watching a monitor
The Spread Your Wings station at the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s new “Above and Beyond” exhibition turn humans into birds on a motion-capture video simulator.
(Courtesy of Oscar Williams)

The hands-on, family-friendly, interactive exhibition explores the history and science of flight, from the Wright brothers to Mars exploration


The San Diego Air & Space has opened a new family-friendly exhibit that does more than just recount the 120-year history of manned flight.

“Above and Beyond,” which opened last weekend, also explores through more than 20 interactive stations the ingenuity and science behind human flight — from the Wright brothers’ triumph at Kitty Hawk in 1903 to plans for expeditions to Mars in the 2030s. Technologies featured in the hands-on exhibits include films, simulators, touchscreens, motion sensors, augmented reality and mathematical testing equipment.

One walk-through exhibit with motion-sensing technology and computer graphics allows visitors to flap their arms like wings to see themselves as birds on a video monitor and learn how lift, weight, thrust and drag help birds steer and soar.

San Diego Air & Space Museum's new "Above and Beyond" exhibition
San Diego Air & Space Museum’s new “Above and Beyond” exhibition includes a station where visitors can learn about spacecraft of the future.
(Courtesy of Oscar Williams)

One touchscreen station offers an exploration of future aircraft, like flying cars and hypersonic craft that will fly at five times the speed of sound. There are virtual 3D models of six aircraft that show the evolution of flight science. Another station allows visitors to design their own virtual fighter jet. There’s a simulated wind tunnel to test aerodynamics, and an interactive gallery on high-altitude flight innovations.

Visitors can “ride” a simulated space elevator that might one day lift spacecraft out of the Earth’s atmosphere so that heavy rockets won’t be needed. And there’s an augmented reality experience that allows visitors to experience the physical and psychological challenges astronauts will face on the seven-month journey to Mars.

“Above and Beyond” is included with the cost of general museum admission and will remain on display through December.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (last admission at 4:30 p.m.). Runs through 2023.

Where: 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego

Tickets: (619) 234-8291


San Diego Air & Space Museum's "Above and Beyond" exhibition allows visitors to design their own robotic flying crafts.
San Diego Air & Space Museum’s “Above and Beyond” exhibition allows visitors to design their own robotic flying crafts.
(Courtesy of Oscar Williams)