What was the unexpected delight of our trip to Marathon? The Experimental Aircraft Association, or EAA, Museum! I didn’t know what EAA was exactly, but I knew it had to do with airplanes, so as a traveler, I was all in. It was the perfect stop on our road trip from Islamorada to Marathon, and a sure winner for aviation enthusiasts of all types–not just aviators!
- Northbound or Southbound: Southbound
- Location: Marathon Airport (private planes only; no commercial flights)
- Parking: Yes
- Restrooms: Yes
- Admission: FREE, donations accepted
- Hours: Daily 10-5
- Time: 1 hour
Believe it or not, EAA stands for “Experimental Aircraft Association.” Don’t worry! It’s not too experimental. That’s just a classification for an airplane that you make yourself, often from a kit, or sometimes it’s called “home built.” I know—it sounds crazy to think you can build an airplane from a kit at home, but people do it!
The EAA started in 1958 and is an organization based in Oshkosh, WI, for aviation enthusiasts. There are chapters all over the world, and over 200,000 members. The chapter in Marathon is notably the “Southernmost.”
Admission is FREE, but all donations go toward flight school for people who want to be pilots! I love when organizations exist to help people pursue their dreams.
More here: A Brief History of Flight
Our tour guide, Avery, was awesome. The museum is located at the Marathon Airport, which is a working airport for private planes. There are no commercial flights to or from this airport (Miami and Key West take care of the commercial air traffic), but you will still need to be accompanied by a guide on the tarmac to see the airplanes. He was very knowledgeable and took the time to chat with us and answer all our questions.
The museum has four airplanes on display, two of which are still used by their owners. The plane in the photo below is a “home built” plane that belongs to a former military pilot-turned-commercial pilot! He built it himself over the course of a few years, with the help of some of his EAA buddies. It’s a replica of a German World War I Fokker.
The yellow plane below is owned by a local pilot in his 90s who still pilots his own aircraft! He takes kids up with him sometimes to give them the thrill of their life, and possibly inspire them to become pilots one day. He built the plane himself many years ago, and as you can see, he keeps it in top condition.
The World War II-era plane below was a fun feature to explore. We got to sit inside and see what flying used to be like! This one was not a home build or kit plane–it was really flown during World War II, as well as during the Golden Age of Flying!
The little blue and white plane below may look like a toy, but I assure you, it’s not! It came in a kit and was put togther by EAA members. It’s never been flown, but it has been admired here for years!
Read next: What It’s Like to be a Woman Medevac Pilot
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