I will start this article off with a different tone than previous trips. I want to apologize
for not being able to cover this trip as well as I would have liked. For the first time
during my travels, I was overcome with the gravity of the subject and its many displays.
To effectively cover/enjoy this museum, I found that it will take more than the one day
I had available.
As a member of the U.S. Air Force for so many years, I enjoy visiting the many military museums available to the public "free of charge". We have reported on a number of them and we have plans to visit many more. I find myself reliving some of the wonderful experiences I had on active duty. If you are military or are associated with military activities, I hope you are enjoying these trips as much as I am.
Because of the "largeness" of this Museum and time constraints of videos, these is no way to document it the way I would have liked. So, I have provided three videos at the bottom of this page for this trip. I tried to break them into subject matters (1) "The Early Years" of aircraft development, (2) "World War II" aircraft and their impact on our success in the war, (3) and "The Southeast Asia Days".
I look forward to returning the Museum to cover more areas in the museum.
I welcome any input you may have on this trip or any trips we cover.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force
The National Museum of the United States Air Force (formerly the United States Air Force Museum) is the official museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base 6 miles northeast of Dayton, Ohio. This Museum is the largest and oldest military aviation museum in the world, with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display. The museum draws over 1.3 million visitors each year making it one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Ohio.
The museum dates back to 1923 when the Engineering Division at Dayton's McCook Field first collected technical artifacts for preservation. In 1927 it moved to then-Wright Field and was housed in a succession of buildings. In 1954 as the Air Force Museum it was housed in its first permanent facility, Building 89 of the former Patterson Field in Fairborn, which had been an engine overhaul hangar, and many of its aircraft were parked outside and exposed to the weather. It remained there until 1971 when the current facility was first opened. Not including its annex on Wright Field proper, the museum has more than tripled in square footage since its inception in 1971.
The museum announced a new name for the facility in October 2004. The former name "United States Air Force Museum" was changed to "National Museum of the United States Air Force".
The museum is a central component of the National Aviation Heritage Area.
The museum's collection contains many rare aircraft of historical or technological importance as well as various memorabilia and artifacts relating to the history and development of aviation. Included in the permanent collections are one of four surviving Convair B-36s, the only surviving XB-70 Valkyrie, and Bockscar - the B-29 Superfortress that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki during the last days of World War II.
The museum has several Presidential aircraft, including those used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The centerpiece of the Presidential aircraft collection is SAM 26000, a modified Boeing 707 used regularly by Presidents John F. Kennedy through Richard Nixon during his first term; after which it served as the backup Presidential aircraft. This was the aircraft that took President and Mrs. Kennedy to Dallas on November 22, 1963 - the day of the President's assassination. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president aboard it shortly after the assassination; this aircraft then carried the slain President's body back to Washington. It was temporarily removed from display on December 5, 2009, to be repainted. It was placed back on display in the museum on President's Day, 2010. All presidential aircraft are now on display in their own Presidential Hangar next to the R&D/Flight Test Hangar located west of the USAF Museum. As both hangars are behind the perimeter fence on Wright-Patterson AFB property, they are only accessible to the general public by tour bus.
There is a large section of the museum dedicated to pioneers of flight, especially the Wright Brothers, who conducted some of their experiments at nearby Huffman Prairie. A replica of the Wrights' 1909 Military Flyer is on display, as well as other Wright Brothers artifacts. The building also hosts the National Aviation Hall of Fame, which includes several educational exhibits.
The museum has a large inventory of US Army Air Force and Air Force clothing and uniforms in its collection. At any time over fifty WWII vintage A-2 leather flying jackets are on display, many of which belonged to famous figures in Air Force history. Others are beautifully painted to depict the airplanes and missions flown by their former owners. Included in the museum's displays are the jacket worn by Brig. Gen. James Stewart, P-38 ace Maj. Richard I. Bong's sheepskin B-3 jacket and boots, an A-2 jacket worn by one of the few USAAF pilots to leave the ground during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and President Ronald Reagan's peacoat.
The museum completed the construction of a third hangar and hall of missiles in 2004. It now houses post-Cold War era planes such as the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber (test aircraft), the F-117 Nighthawk stealth ground attack aircraft and others.
The museum has an IMAX theater that shows, for a fee, aviation and space oriented IMAX films interspersed primarily with other documentaries.
The museum owns other aircraft that are on loan to other aerospace museums in the United States. Most of these loaned aircraft duplicate aircraft exhibited by the museum.
The museum is divided into galleries, covering broad historic trends in military aviation. These are further broken down into exhibits detailing specific time periods and showing aircraft in their historical context.
All aircraft in this list were designed and built in the United States of America, unless otherwise indicated.
Early Years Gallery (1901-1941) (See video below)
World War I (1917-1918
Inter-War years (1919-1941
World War II (See video below)
Southeast Asia War (See video below)
Missile and Space Gallery
I would like to add one final comment about the museum's exhibits. There is a "Bob Hope" exhibit located near the gift show. I have always admired Mr. Hope for his contributions to the military. He and his USO tours brought relief to the troops in time of need for decades. I know he sacrificed time away from his family to entertain our troops who were away from their families. God bless Bob Hope.
Don't forget to view the three videos of the Museum below. We plan to return to the museum to get more videos:
Open daily 9am - 5pm
Closed thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year Day
National Museum of the United States Air Force
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio