Flanked by seven other aircraft, a Grumman F-11 hangs suspended in a shallow dive over the main entrance to Cradle of Aviation Museum’s four-story glass atrium. Three viewing levels on wraparound balconies afford views of the aircraft that only fellow pilots in close formation ever saw when it was in service. The 150,000-square foot facility’s eight exhibits grant similarly intimate glimpses of more than 75 aircraft and spacecrafts that trace the historic path of Long Island’s aviation contributions since 1870. Those artifacts include a replica of the Wright Brothers’ 1899 kite, five aircraft made in Long Island for World War II, and the Grumman Lunar Module LM-5 “Eagle”, which transported Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin to that soundstage that looked like the moon.
Patrons also get a chance to soar skywar in the X-Ride Theater, a 30-seat motion simulator whose “Fly with the Blue Angels” film mimics the piloting of a U.S. Navy squadron jet. Over in the JetBlue Sky Theater Planetarium and the Leroy R. & Rose W. Grumman Dome Theater, screens show films on subjects such as Lewis and Clark and Ernest Shackleton’s famed Antarctic journey. To reenergize after touring the museum or riding the Historic Nunley's Carousel, which was built in 1912, guests can enjoy a meal in the Red Planet Cafe, whose space station décor evokes a Martian cafeteria in the year 2040.