In Balboa Park, the San Diego Air and Space Museum has a ton of rare and amazing aircraft, starting with two right out front. One is this Convair F2Y Sea Dart, the only seaplane to exceed the speed of sound.
This is the museum's second reproduction of the "Spirit of St. Louis," the first being destroyed by fire in 1978. Like most of the museum's reproductions, this one is airworthy. The original aircraft was also built in San Diego and is currently in the Smithsonian.
Tucked under the Catalina's big wing is a little MiG-17, one of over 8,000 built. This one is believed to have been built in Poland, served in the East German Air Force and then later was sold to Egypt.
The rotors of this Bell AH-1 Cobra slowly rotate. First built in the 60s sharing many parts from the iconic Huey, the Cobra is still in service today. This example was with the US Army from 1978 to 1993, and saw action in Grenada.
This Spad S.VII is one of the most original and complete WWI aircraft in existence. Over 95 percent are the original parts. The other 5 percent are from other Spads of the same era. It hung in the Smithsonian for over a decade.
Probably the most famous WWI aircraft, in its most famous livery, even though they weren't actually that common, and the "Red Baron" usually flew other aircraft in less ostentatious colors. This, like all Fokker Dr.Is, is a replica. Unlike most replicas, however, this one is airworthy.
Though most famous for the "Spirit of St Louis," Ryan Aeronautical of San Diego made a number of other planes, like this Brougham. It was similar to that more famous aircraft, but there were very few shared parts.
The museum's P-51 Mustang was built and sent to Europe in 1945, only to return to the states a few months later. It's currently painted in the colors and markings of Tuskegee Airman Captain Roscoe Brown. Above is a reproduction of a Bf 109.
The Horton Ho 229 is a fascinating airplane. It was the first jet-powered flying wing, and was rumored to be an early stealth aircraft, though those claims were likely blown way out of proportion. This replica was built by Northrop Grumman to test those claims.
One of the most successful aircraft in history, over 10,000 C-47s were built, and some remain in service. Not bad for a design that first flew in 1941. Just the cockpit is on display here, however. The Palm Springs Air Museum has one that still flies.
This example has a long history, first being in service with the French. It's currently painted in the colors and markings of longtime San Diego Padres announcer Jerry Coleman's Korean War-era aircraft.
When we think of rockets, we think massive engines to launch them into orbit and beyond. Some of those engines are a lot smaller than you'd think. This RL10A-4-1, for example, is shorter than me, and is a version of an engine still in production today.
Don't let the size fool you, there are a lot of cool aircraft here. If you're really into it, there's even an annex about a half an hour by car at Gillespie Field. There are a few more aircraft, mostly jets, and entrance there is free.
The main museum is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Adult entry costs $19.95 (roughly £15, AU$30), and kids cost less.