Flight (Boeing 727 and Flight Simulators) - Museum of Science and Industry

This is a real Boeing 727, donated to the museum when it was retired from United’s fleet. You can look into the cockpit, and there are exhibits in the front describing the science of flying. Behind that, are rows of seats with a corny but cute video playing in each seat. Outside of the plane you can see a cutaway of the engine, and several other interactive exhibits showing how planes work.

Several flight simulators are at the end of the hall with the 727, split into two types called Ride and Fly. Ride is fine for younger kids (the 42” minimum height only applies for kids riding without adults) and simulates a ride through "exotic locales," tipping some in each direction but not dramatically. Fly is only for older kids or adults, with a 48” minimum height and the ability to go completely inverted. Fly simulates combat, with one person acting as the pilot and the other as the gunner. Being the pilot is more fun and less nausea-inducing since you control the plane, but you don't get a lot of say in which position you are unless you're going with a friend. You can pay double to go solo as both the pilot and the gunner.

Ride has a capacity of 8 passengers, and costs $6 per person. Fly has two people per flight and costs $8 per person—if you want to go solo and be the pilot and gunner, the cost of Fly doubles to $16. For both, expect to be paired up with other people or groups, especially on busy days.


Because the center of the third floor is open to the atrium below, it’s best to take the yellow stairs to avoid a walk. If you need an elevator, use the elevator by the orange stairs.

There are cutouts in the air frame so you can look down to the wheel well (the gear functions, so if you’re lucky you can see it actually extend down). You can see through part of the back to see a stairway and ductworks, cables, etc.

This was a great place to go before my kids first plane rides, just to talk about being on a plane and what seats would be like. Since that flight, they have enjoyed having me sit and they serve me as flight attendants.

For kids in upper elementary and above (and even for adults), keep an eye open for a pilot at the exhibit (they’ll be dressed as a pilot). These are actual pilots so they can give you very detailed answers to any question. They may even be able to use a remote to activate different parts of the plane (lowering flaps, landing gear, adjusting rudder, etc), while they talk you through how a plane takes off and lands. Not every pilot will have the remote, and they’re restricted from using it at certain times (when the WOW tour groups may come through downstairs), but if the timing works out it’s very interesting to see.

For that age range, you’ll also want to watch the video just outside the plane, which shows the very interesting process of getting the 727 into the museum.

My one complaint about the 727 is that the exhibit feels dated: GPS is described as if it’s an unfamiliar technology, and the video playing in the passenger area seems older than the exhibit (which opened in 1994). The phones that you can use to listen to audio feel old as well. But this is a pretty minor complaint and most kids won’t notice it.

The closest bathroom is just next door, on the other side of the yellow stairs.