The floor-to-ceiling windows of the Great Gallery offer far better lighting than most air museums I've visited. There's a slightly higher percentage of Boeing aircraft than other museums, which isn't surprising given that it's located adjacent to Boeing Field. Here's the civilian version of the P-12, the Model 100, with a Stearman C3B behind.
Not sure I've seen one of these before, and I love it. A LearAvia Lear Fan 2100. Two turboshaft engines fed a gearbox to drive the single prop. Then there's the Y-shaped tail and largely composite construction. It never made it to production.
The V1 flying bomb (top) was, incredibly, built from parts salvaged from the factory in Nordhausen.
The star of the show in the Great Gallery is the M-21. It's not, as you might have first thought, an SR-71. This is the only surviving M-21 variant of the earlier A-12. It was created as a test-bed mothership for the D-21 drone you can see on its back.
Although a reproduction, it's not one you see very often. Most museums with Japanese WWII aircraft have the more famous Zero. This is a Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa, also called an Oscar, and it was assembled using pieces from four downed Ki-43s. The Zero was flown by the Japanese Navy, the Hayabusa was flown by the Army.
Upstairs we step back a few more decades. Given the time, and their construction, few original WWI aircraft survive. Most museums have reproductions or replicas. However, there are a few originals here.
This B-17F was built right up the road. It served as a trainer aircraft, then was stationed in Britain at the end of the war, but didn't see combat. After the war it entered civilian use and served as a tanker and even appeared in movies such as Tora, Tora, Tora and Memphis Belle.
The legendary B-52, which is still in service and will be for another few decades, was developed from many core B-47 ideas. There is a B-52 on site, and will be displayed in its own dedicated area soon.
The first jet-powered Air Force One, a converted VC-137B, aka the Boeing 707. One of three Special Air Mission aircraft delivered in 1959, it was used by Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Nikita Khrushchev and Henry Kissinger. Eisenhower became the first president to fly aboard a jet aircraft, and it was this aircraft, the SAM 970.
The original rationale for three engines was it was cheaper than four, but theoretically safer than two. That is no longer thought to be the case. Wendover Productions has a fascinating video about why there are no more trijets.
And as you'd hope for from a museum with a large number of famous Boeing aircraft, there's a prototype 787. This was the third aircraft finished, and was used to demonstrate the plane to potential customers around the world.
The 787 was designed to be more efficient, allowing for "long and thin" routes. Long distances between smaller cities. The engines are a big part of that, with either GEnx or Rolls Royce Trent 1000 options.
Rather than hiring a few hundred people to fly around in a prototype airplane as ballast, manufacturers use kegs of water instead. Arranged all over the cabin, they can be filled and emptied to adjust weight balance to determine different flight characteristics of a fully loaded aircraft.
The aircraft's actual "black box," which is really two boxes, one for the flight data recorder and one for the cockpit voice recorder. These are the two boxes in the upper right. As you can see, black boxes aren't actually black.
Technically in between the Aviation Pavilion and the rest of the museum, I saved the Space Gallery for last. Although the museum doesn't have one of the remaining Shuttles, it does have the trainer mockup, which you can get a separate ticket to go inside.