Aviation fans, children and grown-ups alike can let their imagination run wild in the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre. This museum features interesting stories about the history of aviation and Darwin’s wartime experience, but the most attention from visitors tends to drift towards to the 18 civil and military aircraft on display.
Take a minute to stop and admire the B-52 bomber. This particular plane is one of only two available for viewing by the public outside of the United States. It was given to Darwin by the U.S. in acknowledgement of the part the city played during World War II. B-52s are able to take off at Darwin Airport at maximum weight because of the longer runway. B-52s occasionally still visit Darwin on training missions.
A replica Spitfire and an Avon Sabre are also on show. Check out the Huey Cobra helicopter, a model that served during the Vietnam War and in U.S. peacekeeping missions from then on. The F-111 on display was also last used in combat in Vietnam. These planes are all accompanied by information about their backgrounds and their capabilities.
See the remnants of the Mitsubishi Zero, and learn its fascinating history. When it was gunned down during the first bombing of Darwin in 1942, the Japanese pilot survived, but was taken to Cowra as a prisoner of war. He eventually died during the infamous POW breakout there in 1944. His aircraft had also been part of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
If you are keen to keep learning at home, visit the museum’s gift shop to browse the extensive array of books and films on aviation and Northern Territory history. The shop offers refreshments, as well, so this is the place to refuel before moving on to your next stop.
The Australian Aviation Heritage Centre is located on the Stuart Highway, about 8 kilometres (5 miles) from central Darwin. It’s easily accessible by bus, which leaves from the city centre.
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