The Wings Over Virginia Aviation Gallery just opened at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in downtown Roanoke.

The gallery traces the history and future of aviation in Virginia. Visitors can explore hands-on exhibits and videos to understand the science of flight and aviation technology, listen to the heroic stories of the region's military and civilian aviators who have impacted history, learn about the air ambulance service and the team that saves lives every day, and climb aboard a jet to see inside a real aircraft cabin and imagine being a pilot.

The gallery, which has been six years in the making, had been closed to the public since the museum suffered severe damage from a storm in the summer of 2006. The roof of the gallery was blown off, ruining the majority of the exhibits.
Before rebuilding the gallery, the museum undertook an ambitious public opinion survey to garner ideas and feedback about what the community wanted to see in new and existing exhibits. Over 1,000 museum fans responded to the surveys, and the Wings Over Virginia Gallery incorporates the best of those ideas.

Wings Over Virginia Aviation Gallery exhibits include:

Aviation Technology and Principles of Flight - Learn how mechanical devices are able to fly, identify parts of an airplane and see airplane engines up close.

How Wings Work - The colorful hands-on exhibit shows examples of different types of airplane wings.

Commercial Aviation - Traces the growth and development of passenger air travel and air mail. Also on display are flight attendant uniforms from the 1940s to the 1980s and passenger aircraft models.

Virginia's Commercial Airports - Learn about the design, history, impact and function of Virginia's commercial airports. Take a detailed look at Roanoke Regional Airport and what it looks like to approach the runway in Roanoke during the day and at night.

Barnstorming - See how barnstorming became a popular - and dangerous - attraction in the early days of aviation.

Flight Talk - Oral histories of some of the region's aviators, including Chauncey Spencer, a Lynchburg native, one of the founding members of the Tuskegee Airman; and Col. Joseph G. Johnson, Jr., a World War II pilot who flew a B-26 bomber over Utah Beach and bombed Nazi encampments.

The Virginia Museum of Transportation is the Official Transportation Museum of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but receives no state funding. Located in the historic Norfolk & Western Freight Station, it showcases Virginia's rail heritage and contributions to the auto and aviation industries.