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