Silver Wings

 Posted by at 12:46 am  Nick's Blog
Sep 232012

For years I’ve heard about the National Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and it has been on our bucket list. Yesterday, we got to cross it off.

We rode into Dayton with Greg and Jan and stopped at the Wright Brothers bicycle shop and museum, which are part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Included is a video and displays on the Wright brothers, who lived and worked in Dayton while experimenting with flying machines. Next door to the museum building is one of five buildings that housed their bicycle shop at different times. In addition to bicycles and airplanes, Wilbur and Orville Wright were also printers and newspaper and magazine publishers. Terry and I had toured the Historical Park before, but this was Greg and Jan’s first visit.

From there we drove to the Air Force Museum, which houses what must be the finest collection of military aircraft to be found anywhere in the world. The museum is divided into several galleries which cover everything from the early days of military aviation, World Wars I and II, the National Aviation Hall of Fame, Korea and Vietnam, the Cold War, and the Missile and Space Gallery.

Museum outside

There were airplanes everywhere! Sitting on the floor, hanging suspended from the ceiling; biplanes, tri-planes, single and multi-engine planes, helicopters, gliders, rockets – if it flies, they have it on display!

Museum wwI suspended 

Museum Cabroni

 Museum suspended twin engine

Besides the many airplanes, there is an amazing collection of historical aviation artifacts. We saw everything from experimental weapons, to pilots’ helmets and parachutes, to a scrap of fabric from the wreckage of Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen, Germany’s fabled Red Baron of World War I fame.

There were also displays on escape and evasion tactics used by pilots shot down over hostile territory and on the experience of prisoners of war who were captured by the enemy.

Museum POW

This P–40E is painted in the colors of the famous Flying Tigers. They were also flown by the 99th Fighter Squadron, better known as the Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first African-American pilots.

Museum flying tiger

This is the Bockscar, the famous B-29 bomber that dropped the Fat Man atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan on August 9, 1945, which led to Japan’s unconditional surrender five days later, and the end of World War II.

Museum Bockscar

This is an aircraft I’m very familiar with, a Vietnam War–era Huey helicopter. They were workhorses in Vietnam, carrying troops, flying medevac missions, and serving as heavily armed gunships to support troops on the ground.

Museum huey

Standing on the floor and looking up in the Missile and Space Gallery was certainly impressive, with all of the massive rockets on display.

Museum rockets

The museum also has an extensive gift shop, an IMAX theater, and visitors can arrange a guided tour of several Presidential aircraft housed on the main base.

This Lockheed C–141 Starlifter, nicknamed the Hanoi Taxi, brought the first American Vietnam War POWs back to freedom from Hanoi in 1973. Gypsy Journal blog reader Barry Crocker was on the ground crew at Clark Air Base in the Philippines when it landed with its first load of heroes and watched them offload from his position under the left wing. Thank you for your service, Barry.

It was a long day, but a lot of fun. The wind had really picked up by the time the museum closed and they were shooing all of us out the door. We stopped for dinner at Unos Chicago Grill and got back to the Indian Lakes campground somewhere around 8:30 PM.

And of course the party crowd of pipeline workers who have long-term spaces across from us were going at it full force. At 11:30, it was hard to hear our television inside our closed up motorhome over their loud music and the cars and trucks coming and going. We really like this Thousand Trails campground, but this nonsense gets old in a hurry. It’s a nice place during the week, but a madhouse on Friday and Saturday nights, and the rangers and management seem oblivious.

Thought For The Day – My ex-wife is living proof of just how stupid I can be.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  5 Responses to “Silver Wings”

  1. Your welcome Nick and yours as well. I’m glad you were able to visit the museum. Safe travels.

  2. Nick, I’m surprised neither you or Greg mentioned seeing the B-36 bomber inside one of the buildings. It was the most impressive sight in there when we visited several years ago.

  3. About 50 miles west of Dayton between the small towns of Millville and Mooreland, Indiana, sits Wilbur Wright’s birthplace. It is a state historic site and the house is a recreation and furnished in period decor. There is also a museum on the grounds with a replica of the Wright Flyer. It is in the country, a beautiful setting. Also on the grounds is a 1/3 scale replica of the Dayton tower and is in use by model airplane enthusiasts. During activities at the site, they have flights of all kinds of remote planes the owners bring. It actually is a “former” state historic site. It is beautifully maintained by loving volunteers, but the state relinquished control because they felt there wasn’t enough traffic. Instead of letting it be disbanded, the local townspeople took up the cause and have several fundraisers throughout the year to keep it open. It is an important site and the locals are proud to offer it to the public. You can read more about it here:

  4. This is a national treasure. My father was int he second OCS class of the Army Air Corps and served every rank from PVT through Colonel. We have given 45 years of service to this country. Dad died not long after the last presidential election, and he was broken hearted. I don’t know if what is left of American society has the intelligence, education or guts necessary to unseat the WH pretender.

  5. I would send a copy of this blog posting to the folks at ELS in Chicago, whose corporation owns Thousand Trails and let them know how many folks read your posts and how this lack of caring can effect their parks all over if they were to obtain a bad reputation.

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