Located within a large hangar near the Missoula International Airport, the Museum of Mountain Flying is dedicated to preserving the aviation history of the Rocky Mountain region.
Featuring several aircraft and thousands of photographs and artifacts, the museum explores the legacy of pioneering pilots and their efforts to bring Montana into the Air Age.
What is the Museum of Mountain Flying?
Established in 1993, the Museum of Mountain Flying was built over the old “boneyard” of the Johnson Flying Service.
The museum was constructed to preserve the many achievements of the trailblazing company that serviced the Northern Rockies area between the late 1920s and early 1970s.
The museum eventually grew to house several aircraft and artifacts that recount aviation’s complete history and development in the Rocky Mountain region.
In 2002, the Museum of Mountain Flying finally acquired a permanent home for its exhibits in the form of an 18,500-square-foot hangar owned by the airport.
Today, visitors to the Museum of Mountain Flying can explore several aircraft from across Montana’s extensive airborne history, additional ground vehicles used to maintain the growing aviation industry, and thousands of photographs and artifacts that chronicle the development and innovation of the state’s airborne services.
What Is There To See and Do At the Museum of Mountain Flying?
The entire showroom floor of the Museum of Mountain Flying’s 18,500-square-foot hangar is covered in aviation vehicles and artifacts just waiting to be explored.
From aircraft and terrain vehicles to photographs and newspaper clippings, the Museum of Mountain flying features exhibits that chronicle the historic planes of Montana and the pilots that have helped shape the state’s aviation industry we know today.
Montana’s Aviation History Through Aircraft
The Museum of Mountain Flying has over 25 authentic aircraft exhibited on its hangar floor. The oldest plane featured in the museum is a DeHavilland DH.60GMW Gipsy Moth N617V, a British two-seat training and touring aircraft that was first developed in the 1920s.
Beginning with this early model, visitors to the museum can explore the development of Montana’s aviation crafts, their innovations and additions in preparation for WWII, and their further expansion into the commercial vessels we know today.
Each aircraft featured on the showroom floor was a cornerstone of Montana’s airborne development. Each vehicle has a story waiting to be explored at the Museum of Mountain Flying.
Miss Montana and the Mann Gulch Fire
None of the Museum of Mountain Flying’s 25+ aircraft collection has quite the storied past as the Douglas DC-3 known as Miss Montana.
Officially registered as NC24320, Miss Montana was constructed in 1944 to serve the U.S. Army Air Forces. However, the craft never saw combat and was bought by the Johnson Flying Service shortly after in 1946.
Miss Montana garnered her legacy during the Mann Gulch Fire in August 1949. As a cargo plane and shuttle, Miss Montana was called into action to deliver 15 smokejumpers to the now infamous fire that blazed only 20 miles north of Helena.
12 of the 15 jumpers and the fire guard perished in the blaze. The event is still considered a national tragedy that has served as a lesson for developing new training techniques and safety measures established by the United States Forest Service.
Today, Miss Montana serves as a reminder of the tragedy. When not acting as the centerpiece of the Museum of Mountain Flying, the restored Miss Montana continues to fly out of Missoula during airshows and special events.
The Johnson Flying Service Vehicles
Operating between the 1920s and the 1970s, the Johnson Flying Service served as the cornerstone of the Montana aviation industry for over 50 years.
Along with displaying many of the company’s historic planes, the Museum of Mountain Flying also features exhibits of the company’s terrain vehicles that made airborne travel possible.
Among these industrial vehicle exhibits is a 1947 2.5-ton federal flatbed truck used for years by the Johnson Flying Service for part transportation and hauling. Today the truck is frequently used for local parades and events.
Montana’s Aviation History Through Photographs
The preserved aircraft are a great way to explore the history of Montana’s airborne industry, but there is nothing quite like seeing these planes in their heyday.
The Museum of Mountain Flying features exhibits of thousands of old photographs and newspapers that immortalize each aircraft at the height of its services.
Through these images, guests can witness first-hand the innovation and progression of Montana’s aircraft and infer the excitement of the pilots that once flew them.
How to Visit the Museum of Mountain Flying
Located at 713 South Third Street, Missoula, MT 59801, the Museum of Mountain Flying is a part of Missoula International Airport.
The museum operates seven days a week from Memorial Day Weekend Thru Mid-September and opens from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Admission fees are as follows;
- $4 for Adults
- $2 for Seniors or Military
- $2 for Students
- $10 for Family
The Museum of Mountain Flying is the premier archive for preserving and displaying the history of the aviation industry in the Rocky Mountain area.
From historic aircraft to thousands of photographs and artifacts, the museum explores the development of the state’s flying services and the lives of the landmark pilots that pioneered the industry.