No public tours are available, but aerospace blogger Steve Harris posted some juicy details about his private visit to Skunk Works. For those who can't get in, Harris told me he only got to see "about 15 or 20 percent of what they could show us. Everything else is something that we don't even know exists." Outside the property, you can see Skunk Works' "big, giant, white, box-of-a-building" easily. The Skunk Works small gift shop is open to the public about a mile or so down the road.
Next, I'd have to travel from the birthplace of aviation icons to the place where they go to die.
That would be a hunk of desert near Tucson, Arizona, known as "The Boneyard."
The Air Force calls it 309 AMARG -- The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (formerly known as AMARC). It's basically the Pentagon's 2,600-acre parking lot for about 5,000 retired military aircraft.
It's sort of like a classic-car junkyard where all the town gearheads want to hang out and pull parts for their customized vehicles.
Access to this place is restricted, but nearby Pima Air & Space Museum offers tours of the Boneyard and -- for geeks with deep pockets -- several companies at Tucson's airport sell scenic Boneyard flyovers, says Chris Slack, who runs Boneyard website amarcExperience.com.
Geek bonus: The Boneyard served as a scene location for the 2009 film "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."
I'd definitely hit Pima Air & Space, by the way. It's got 300 choice aircraft -- like several Soviet-designed MiG fighter jets, a Blackbird and an F-111 Aardvark, the first Air Force jet with "swing wings." Fast and last
Seattle's Museum of Flight has some real beauties, including a unique Blackbird variant called the M-21. This particular Blackbird was able to launch unpiloted drones that were used for independent intelligence gathering.
Geek trivia: Although it was developed in the 1960s, the Blackbird still holds the record as the fastest "air-breathing" jet plane in history with a velocity more than 2,100 mph, three times the speed of sound. Wanna sit in the cockpit? Museum of Flight has a mockup, which is about as close as it comes.
What else does the Museum of Flight have? Something for aviation geeks AND politics geeks: a Boeing 707-200 that served as the first jet-powered Air Force One.
This is kinda cool: parked outside the museum is the last supersonic Concorde jetliner to make a commercial flight.
It's really not that geeky -- OK? This thing is the world's fastest jetliner for God's sake.
We're talking about cruise speeds above 1,000 mph, compared with regular airliners, like Boeing's new 787, that poke along at under 600 mph.
Here's something a suspected aviation geek could do during a quick layover at Dallas-Fort Worth International: check out a painstakingly restored 72-year-old DC-3 airliner.
The Flagship Knoxville, the shiny silver centerpiece of American Airlines' C.R. Smith Museum, is about a 10-minute cab ride south of DFW. As everyone who's boarded one knows, the DC-3 is a tail-dragger.
The plane's tail is designed to sit on the ground, so when you step aboard the aircraft you find yourself on a steep incline. It reminds you how far commercial aviation has come. Meal carts? Nah, not for DC-3 "stewardesses." They carried meal trays one-by-one to each of the plane's 21 passengers. That must have been fun during turbulence.
More old-school aviation geekiness: I need to visit Florida's Fantasy of Flight, about 45 minutes southwest of Orlando.
This place features World War I and II-era aircraft, and its website says it's the only attraction in the world that offers daily aerial demonstrations.
For a price, pilots will take passengers for short flights on vintage aircraft. Not daring enough? For daredevils, a pilot will take you up in a Boeing Stearman PT-17, which has duel controls. The pilot will let you take the controls and fly the plane.
Am I interested?