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Hampton - An Important Part of the Hampton Roads Experience

Defined by water, Hampton has the beautiful and picturesque Chesapeake Bay at its front door. To either side, bays, creeks and rivers form its boundaries. Flowing through the heart of the city, the Hampton River is lined with boats of all types. It's easy to understand why Hampton's economy is based on shipbuilding, shipping and rail transportation, seafood production, the military, manufacturing and tourism.

At the Virginia Air and Space Center's multi-story facility on the Hampton River, guests are often seen jaw dropped open gazing upward at the 19 aircraft and spacecraft hanging from the 94-foot high ceiling. This sky view includes an F-4E Phantom II fighter used during the Vietnam War and a Corsair F-106B Delta Dart struck nearly 700 times by lightning while flying through storms as part of NASA's lightning research. This is NASA Langley's official visitor center.

For those that are moonstruck, see a three-billion-year-old moon rock collected during the Apollo 17 mission, the Apollo 12 command module that journeyed to the moon and back, and a replica of the lunar orbiter that mapped the moon's surface for future landings.

In the commercial and civil aviation area get inside a full-size DC-9 with flight simulator. Check out the test flight pre-show theater, the flying lab simulator, the propulsion mini-theater and "A Day in the Life of a Suitcase." Interested in being an air traffic controller? Check out the real-time electronic map of North America showing all aircraft in flight. The "Air Power Over Hampton Roads" allows adventurous minds to build airplanes, while a B-24 motion simulator provides a first-person experience of a World War II bomber.

In the "Little Wings" play area, children can build a plane, ride in a simulator and climb into a cockpit to investigate flight. At "Astronaut-for-a-Minute," youngsters get a glimpse of what they'd look like as a space pilot. Kids learn about the various stages of preparation before a launch and then, send a model rocket shooting up into the "clouds."

To celebrate the Centennial of Flight in 2003, the "Adventures in Flight" gallery was unveiled, covering a range of aviation history - personal, commercial and military - and saluting the Wright Brothers memorable flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., 100 years earlier.

After exploring the museum, walk outside to the Hampton Carousel. All ages are invited to ride the restored 1920's merry-go-round with hand-carved horses and chariots.

Less than two blocks from the Virginia Air and Space Center discover the Hampton History Museum with a wide range of exhibits - everything from Blackbeard the Pirate to the city's relationship with seafood to the birthplace of the American space program. Meander a few blocks inland to historic Queen's Way with shops, restaurants and galleries.