FLIGHT Exhibit Now Open at EdVenture

boy wearing bird wings in  a wind tunnel

FLIGHT at Edventure Children's Museum in Columbia, South Carolina incorporates real airplane elements throughout the exhibit - including right through a wall! In addition to "flying" the Boeing 757 emerging from the side of the building, visitors experience a learning theater made from airplane fuselage sides and seats, a child-sized wind tunnel, "Flight School" with Boeing 777 simulators, an airplane manufacturing robot, a paper airplane test flight station, and more.

“If we are going to have enough people ready for manufacturing jobs in South Carolina in the future, we have to get children excited about science learning at the elementary ages,” said Karen Coltrane, EdVenture president and CEO. “This exhibit was designed specifically to link the excitement of flying to the career opportunities available throughout the sector. If we can get children to experience science as a fun subject with real world applications, we will have more people in the workforce pipeline in the future.” Coltrane herself picked the retired Boeing 757 cockpit from an air field “boneyard” in Tupelo, Mississippi. “The process of working directly with industry experts has made this a much better exhibit,” she said. “We are now smarter about the business of flight, and our community partners understand more about reaching and teaching younger audiences.”

The most visible element of the new exhibit is a real Boeing 757 cockpit that now protrudes from the museum’s west side. The cockpit has been named for General Stan Hood, a long-time Columbia resident who started flying at the age of 14 and was the South Carolina Air National Guard Commander. General Hood’s son, Mark Hood, owner and president of Hood Construction, oversaw the project to connect the cockpit to the building’s structure and install the 747 engine cowling. “We had never installed an airplane to the outside of a building,” said Mark Hood, “But our team understood immediately how this exhibit could inspire children to pursue aeronautical careers. My dad always said the government paid him to do something he loved. I hope sitting in this cockpit and having a pilot’s view across the Gervais Street Bridge will get children excited about how science in school connects to fun jobs in the future.”

“Mark Hood immediately saw what we were trying to accomplish and jumped in with both feet, recruiting area subcontractors who all gave assistance,” said Coltrane. “Likewise, I will always be grateful to Mayor Benjamin for not laughing me out of his office when I told him we wanted to hang an airplane out of the side of the building. His and City Council’s support of this exhibit really made it all possible.”

“We are so excited to bring this exhibit to the community,” said Dr. John Dozier, chief diversity officer and senior associate provost for Inclusion at University of South Carolina and chair of EdVenture’s Board of Trustees. “Many of our visitors have never flown before, and this exhibit not only gives them the sensation of flight, but shows that there is an entire industry behind the pilot for which science education can prepare them. Plus, how cool is it to see the Gervais Street Bridge from a real airplane cockpit?”

Funded through NASA's Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums, and NASA Visitor Centers (CP4SMPVC), Award #NNX15AB01A.