Visitors to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum will enter its new grand hall under the wings of a classic jet suspended upside down and painted in the colours of the Snowbirds Demonstration Team.

The museum, on Aviation Parkway near the former Rockcliffe air base, took three years to build the great hall, which opens Wednesday to show off the museum's collection of classic planes.

"We finally put a national museum face on a national museum. It's fabulous, absolutely fabulous," said the museum's director general Stephen Quick.

Visitors can learn about aviation history in the museum's 250-seat auditorium, or in a new digital wind tunnel.

The addition will also include three classrooms specially built for visiting students.

"We have been waiting for these classrooms for years, and am I so excited," said Janice Henderson, who delivers educational programming at the museum.

Students will be encouraged to record their visits on small camcorders during upcoming visits, and Henderson said she hopes the exhibits will inspire the students.

"If they're wild because they're really excited about the airplanes, that's ok," she said, laughing.

The museum first opened in 1988.