In 1783, when Louis XVI met the Montgolfier brothers – inventors of the hot air balloon – he declared, “This is the way to the stars”. And indeed, human flight is a magical endeavor, aptly celebrated at the Museum of Flight inside the San Pelagio Castle, near Padua. The evocative location is a perfect frame where the wonderful dream of soaring in the sky comes to life, through the stories of inventors and pioneers. The museum celebrates the milestones that changed aviation, with airplane models such as the one Lindbergh flew over the Atlantic, and itineraries and special installations – such as the room that recreates a hot air balloon ride using lights, sound effects and video mapping.
Gabriele D’Annunzio plays a central role in the museum, with one of his most memorable feats: on 9 August 1918, taking off from this area, he led the 87th fighter squadron “La Serenissima” over Vienna to drop thousands of leaflets, encouraging the enemy to surrender from the First World War.
The museum includes two different itineraries: the one outside, around the villa’s gardens, revolves around models of airplanes and war systems; the one inside includes 38 rooms dedicated to the leading figures in the history of flight, showcasing memorabilia and personal relics. You’ll find Leonardo and the Montgolfier brothers, the Wright brothers, Nobile and Balbo, and even Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong and Samantha Cristoforetti, who have taken the human kind even beyond the atmosphere, ready to conquer space and new galaxies.
The museum remembers the great women who made the history of aviation, such as Amelia Earhart (the first woman to fly over the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean), aviation pioneer Gaby Angelini, and Raymonde de Laroche, the first woman to ever earn a pilot’s license, on 8 March 1910.
All in all, the Museum of Flight celebrates man’s primordial will to lift above his surroundings, paying homage to the visionary and brave people who pioneered aviation over the centuries, exploring the unavoidable mysteries of the sky above us.