Dayton, Ohio is home to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. No other state can make this claim, and that alone is something to be proud of! But once you actually walk in this place and soak in all the history, it's a whole other story. We all know (or should know) that Dayton is home to Orville and Wilbur Wright, the to brothers who started this whole crazy concept of flight! So it only seems fitting that this museum would be located in their home, the birthplace of aviation.
I have very fond memories of this museum from my childhood, however, I have not visited for at least a decade. As cool as it was when I was a kid, it's about 100 times cooler as an adult that can appreciate not only the insane amount of planes, but also the rich history attached to each and every one. I set aside three hours for my visit this time around, and I quickly realized that was no where near enough time to make it through each of the rooms, let alone read all of the history that each room, plane and artifact provides.
National Museum of the United States Air Force is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world. The museum has been in its present location since 1971 and has acquired over 360 planes to display. That is a lot to get through in three hours. The awesome thing is that the museum is free and open to the public, so I will definitely have to make a trip back here and really absorb all that it offers.
The museum boasts five major galleries of planes in its hangers. There is the Early Years Gallery which has tons of information about the origin of flight itself, and military flight as well. This history ranged from the invention of flight to WWII. They even include balloons that were used prior to the design of airplanes. This room took the most of my time as I walked through taking in all its history. Besides the planes themselves and the progression of their design, materials and uses-there is also an immense amount of information about groundbreaking pilots and aces that made a huge impact early on. Hearing about individuals always connects me so much more to the history than just the objects themselves. I absolutely loved this part of the museum and will be going back to read more of the history they had to offer.
Because I spent so much time in the first gallery, I did not leave myself nearly enough time to make it to the other galleries and fully enjoy my time in each one. However, I did get to almost every gallery and get some photos to share. I wish I was able to share more history (because there is SO much of it there), but maybe that will be another post down the road. The remaining four galleries are the WWII Gallery, the Korean War Gallery, the Southeast Asia War Gallery and the Cold War Gallery. There is also a small Missile and Space Gallery at the very back of the museum.
I cannot stress to you enough how much there is to take in here. I'm not confident that I even glimpsed every plane that was there. But I also cannot stress to you enough how amazing this place is and how worthy it is of a visit-especially if you've never been or just haven't been in a long time. It was an amazing reminder of how many have served our country and just what it took for them to make it to where we are today.
Take for instance the "BOCKSCAR." This is the plane that effectively ended WWII by dropping a bomb on Nagasaki. And this actual plane is in this museum. How crazy cool is that?! Not only this plane, but many, many more that have such important historical relevance and have played such impactful roles in military missions.
Okay, I've probably rambled enough now about why this is a place to be proud of and why it's worth checking out. So, I will just share a few more photos with you and call it a day!
Aaaaannnndddd, here is a small taste of the Missile and Space Gallery:
So check this place out-it's free so you can go as many times as you want/need to!