Your guide to an aviation-themed vacation in (and around) Winnipeg

It’s road trip season!

For those of you planning a vacation to—or staycation in—Winnipeg, we’ve put together an aviation-themed list of attractions and adventures that will leave you buzzing with excitement.

Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada

Our museum is home to 25 aircraft, 100 years of aviation history, 14 galleries, interactive exhibits, and so much more.

We have bush planes, military aircraft, commercial planes, and a few funky Canadian innovations that never quite took off.

Climb aboard a 1960’s airliner, watch the airport runway traffic from our observation lounge, check out North America’s first helicopter (built right here in Manitoba), get hands-on in our Mechanics’ Workshop, and learn about the science of flight.

For the little ones in your group, our space-themed play area is a great place for kids to burn off some energy while you sit back and enjoy the air conditioning.

Check out our upcoming events page to see what else is happening this summer!

Gimli Glider Exhibit

Visitors look through the windows of a section of the Gimli Glider fuselage
Photo courtesy Gimli Glider Exhibit via Facebook

Located just one hour north of Winnipeg is the Gimli Glider Exhibit.

2023 marks the 40th anniversary of the fateful date when Air Canada flight 143 ran out of fuel and made an emergency landing at an abandoned airfield in Gimli, Manitoba. All passengers and crew escaped severe injury thanks to the skillful flying of Captain Robert “Bob” Pearson and First Officer Maurice Quintal.

The aircraft flew for another 25 years with Air Canada before it was retired in 2008. Now, parts of the plane are on display at the Gimli Glider Exhibit. Visit to see the underwing fueling stations, Ram Air Turbine, and sit in seats from the actual plane.  

On July 22, the Exhibit will welcome Captain Pearson as a guest speaker during their 40th-anniversary celebration weekend.

Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum (CATPM)

A Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum visitor and pilot stand next to one of the museum's Tiger Moths after a flight
Photo courtesy Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum via Facebook

The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP) was a deal signed in 1939 when WWII broke out whereby Canada agreed to support its overseas allies by providing facilities and training for airmen from every part of the Commonwealth.

The RCAF undertook the task of training thousands of new personnel. New air bases were built, additional aircraft were acquired, and schools for different specialties were developed.

The CATPM in Brandon pays homage to the BCATP with two floors of exhibits, multiple aircraft, and a memorial wall. Along with a number of static aircraft on display, they have several that are airworthy—and they offer flights!

Brandon is about two hours west of Winnipeg, but there are plenty of other things to do that will make your trek worthwhile. Visit Brandon’s tourism website for tips.

If you’re interested in visiting all three of these museums, check out the Manitoba Flight Pass to save on admission.

Get ready for the Ride of Your Life

Close up selfie of pilot Luke Penner and a passenger flying inverted in Luke's aerobatic plane
Photo courtesy Luke Penner/Harv’s Air Inverted

For the thrill seeker in your group, Luke Penner, Canada’s top-ranked aerobatic pilot, offers rides in a stunt plane from his airport just outside of Steinbach, Manitoba, about an hour southeast of Winnipeg.

Dubbed the Ride of Your Life, Luke will loop, roll, and invert you during a mind-bending 12-, 18-, or 30-minute flight in his Extra 300L, the world’s premiere two-seat aerobatic aircraft.

Learn more and book your ride!

Feathery flights

Two visitors use telescopes and binoculars to observe birds from a boardwalk at Oak Hammock Marsh
Photo courtesy Oak Hammock Marsh via Facebook

For a different type of flight experience, head out to Oak Hammock Marsh, just 35 minutes north of Winnipeg. These wetlands are home to 300 species of birds. During the migratory season, waterfowl numbers can exceed 100,000 daily.

Situated next to the marsh is the Wetland Discovery Centre offering educational programs, tours, a café, a rooftop observation deck, exhibits, and more. Explore the 36 square kilometre area on foot, by bicycle, or in a canoe.

They’ve got a number of events planned throughout the summer including a Birding with the naturalist tour on July 12.

Quench your thirst

Trans Canada Brewing light of beers
Photo courtesy Trans Canada Brewing via Facebook

After a busy day of sightseeing, head over to Trans Canada Brewing (TCB) for a flight of tasty craft beer. Be sure to sample The Ghost pale ale, a special brew made for the Royal Aviation Museum in honour of one of our signature aircraft. They also have a food menu that includes amazing house-made pizzas, and a patio for basking in the warm Manitoba sunshine.

Hopefully, our (flight) paths cross some time this summer!


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