The Wright Brothers' first true love was the sea, but their invention's cardboard wings proved ineffective when soggy, and its fish-fillet propellers kept disappearing. Benefit from the dashed dreams of accidental aviators with today's Groupon: for $10, you get admission for two to the Hiller Aviation Museum (up to a $22 value), located in the northwest corner of the San Carlos Airport.
The Hiller Aviation Museum's 53,000 square feet of airspace includes a sprawling main gallery hangar that suspends historical flight machines in space and time. On display are vintage aircraft such as an unmanned airplane from 1869 called the Avitor and a replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer that whisked bird-envious brothers away from earth on the first manned flight. Aspiring spies can take notes from the 1986 Boeing Condor's stealthily small 201-foot wingspan and inconspicuous trench coat, and yogis can emulate a fully collapsible helicopter from 1956. On the ground below, museum-goers trail through the gallery's thoroughfares, which are lined with images, models, artifacts, and information about aviation's past. Founded by California native and helicopter pioneer Stanley Hiller Jr., the museum places special emphasis on local contributions.
In addition to main exhibits, the Hiller Museum hosts a variety of interactive installations. A restoration shop enclosed by picture windows displays the ongoing reclamation of aircraft from time's wrinkly grasp. Idle hands will appreciate the Flight Sim Zone, available on weekends, which engages amateur sky captains with high-fidelity flight simulation software, realistic aircraft controls, and multi-monitor displays (an additional $3 per pass; not included with this Groupon). The museum recommends that guests call ahead before a visit, as private events occasionally alter hours of operation.
Though Hiller Aviation Museum sometimes features discounted admission online, this Groupon still offers the best deal available.
Hiller Aviation Museum
Helicopter pioneer Stanley Hiller Jr. founded the Hiller Aviation Museum with the future in mind, using history to inspire future generations to explore and create. He had firsthand proof of the innovative abilities of youth—his design for the first successful coaxial helicopter landed at age 19.
In the museum he established in 1998, 53,000 square feet of exhibits let visitors of all ages discover more than 40 aircraft without the dangers of encountering them in the wild. A narrated walking tour leads the way through them, tracing the history of flight from its humble beginnings in village jumping contests to today's supersonic jets. Fixed-wing and rotary aircraft designed by Hiller and others rest throughout the huge, bright space, while weekends beckon would-be pilots into a flight simulator equipped with huge monitors of bay views and realistic yokes, throttles, and pedals.