Visitors can explore the museum's various exhibits and the hibernating aircraft taking up residence in its 35,000-square-foot hangar. Sightseers can also feed hungry retinas with several replica aircraft and vintage cockpit displays or browse the exhibit gallery filled with memorabilia, set up along the 52 ft. Wave Wall, which includes the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame and General Jimmy Doolittle's Congressional Medal of Honor. Lucky folks may also hear an eight-ton World War II P-47 D Thunderbolt roar overhead during one of the many unscheduled flight demonstrations; check online for special events throughout the year.
Ripley’s has enthralled audiences for more than nine decades with its dedication to revealing odd and unexplainable rarities from around the globe. But it all began with one man: Robert Ripley, a wildly successful and eccentric character who rose to fame during the first half of the 20th century. After selling his first cartoon to Life magazine at age 14, he set out on a quick-paced career of drawing sports cartoons for the New York Globe. During a slow day at the office, he sketched nine unusual sporting events and finished his work with a title: “Believe It or Not!” It became immensely popular, allowing Ripley to travel the world in search of more bizarre stories to put into his comic strips. While visiting relatively unknown areas in locales such as India, China, and the inside of his neighbor’s chimney, he picked up a slew of unbelievable souvenirs that later became fixtures in several of Ripley’s museums, or as they’re affectionately called today, Odditoriums. Ripley’s now encompasses publications, attractions, a television show, and a blog, all of which carry Ripley’s tradition of reporting on the world’s curiosities.
In 1987—75 years after the RMS Titanic sank—John Joslyn helped lead an expedition to the bottom of the sea to photograph the wreck and bring up artifacts. Today, the gigantic museum he founded holds authentic items from the Titanic numbering in the thousands and valued at $4.5 million. Accoutrements of Edwardian life that range from cutlery to deck chairs fill meticulously accurate reproductions of the million-dollar grand staircase, the third-class sleeping rooms, and the cozy second-class space between the floorboards. Families make their way through interactive attractions at their own pace as they sit in a full-size lifeboat, walk up the grand staircase, feel exactly how cold 28-degree water is, touch an iceberg, steer the ship, and learn to send an SOS signal. The walk-through experience lasts approximately two hours.
In addition to spelunking expeditions, Greater Outdoor Adventures’ guides run whitewater-rafting and hiking excursions in the Smokey Mountains area. The instructors are well trained, safety conscious, and capable of handling any diplomatic emergencies that may arise during encounters with the mole people.
The Blount Mansion Ghosts and Ghouls tour bridges the gap between past and present by taking visitors on a spine-tingling tour of Knoxville's spookiest historical sites. Leaders donning their most elaborate guises will take visitors through the ectoplasm-soaked streets of downtown Knoxville, regaling them with terrifying anecdotes of bloody and supernatural events in the actual places where they once occurred. Past excursions have included stops at the Gay Street Bridge, where criminals were hanged for horrendous crimes such as murder, robbery, and having shifty eyes. Perhaps the most horrendous intrigue is a recounting of the legend of the Wampus cat —an ancient folkloric creature that causes insanity and drags victims to its underground cave beneath the city, where they're forced to drink with the decidedly less frightening ghost of Andrew Jackson and declare their undying hatred of the Whig party.
Alive After Five provides music lovers with an opportunity to hear master melodeers in an unconventional venue. Each installment in the popular Friday-evening series presents the musical stylings of stylists who fall outside of the mainstream’s diet of pop-rock, gangster rap, and Mongolian folk song mash-ups. Come out October 8 to digest the Latin-flavored ear food of Matias-Rocha y Nueva Trova—accompanied by the fancy footwork of Latin dance school Salsa Knox—or swing by November 12 for the jazz, blues, and soul of Bluesette. Many performances also strike a comestible chord with fare from local eateries such as Cocoa Moon and Regas Restaurant, plus two cash bars to keep throats clear in case of a mid-song audience scat wave.