AerialViewThe world’s largest military aviation museum is located near Dayton, Ohio and offers free admission and free parking. At Wright Patterson Air Force Base, The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is home to over 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles, as well as thousands of artifacts, all under roof with more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. According to their website, they receive about one million visitors from around the world each year.[1]

Dayton Ohio is located in the southwest quarter of the state, about an hour (or so) west of Columbus from I-70, and about an hour north of Cincinnati from I-75. The museum is easy to find and get to by car. I used my GPS, but there are directions on The National Museum of the U. S. Air Force website. We arrived late morning and we left before 5pm, so the traffic was light.

OverviewMapThe museum is well laid out, making it easy to get around. There is a security check at the entrance, but it’s very organized, and when we arrived there was only a short line, so we went right through. There are restrooms right inside the entrance, which is a blessing after a long ride! A small theater which shows historical documentaries and boasts a D3D Cinema experience welcomes you on the left as you enter, and to the right is an information station which is very useful, especially if you are a first time visitor.

Then, it is onward to the museum. All I can say is there are planes – everywhere! They are on display so you can walk around them on the ground, but don’t forget to look up! There is a good number of them hanging from the ceiling. The gallery buildings give the feeling of being inside great big airplane hangers, with the high dome-shaped ceilings. It’s cool!

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There are different exhibits, each with a theme; i.e., the first exhibit is the Early Years Gallery. Here you will get history and information, beginning with a replica of the Wright Brothers’ 1909 Military Flyer.[2]

In 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright launched their invention of a directed power-driven flying machine, forever changing the way the world looked at transportation. And they were from Dayton.

A list of galleries you can visit at the museum, all with Air Force history and artifacts, follows:

  • The Early Years Gallery
  •  WWII Gallery
  • Korean War Gallery
  • SEA War Gallery
  • Cold War Gallery
  • Missile Gallery
  • The NEW fourth building galleries: Space Gallery, R and D Gallery, Global Reach Gallery, and the Presidential Gallery
  • Outside exhibits: Air Park and Memorial Park.

Early in this month of June 2016, the museum opened its fourth building which includes the aforementioned galleries. It is interesting to note, one of the exhibits in the Presidential Gallery is the VC-137C Air Force One (SAM 26000), which was used by eight presidents.[3]

Links to photos.[4]

It is well worth the visit, and as always, my opinions are completely my own, please see my disclaimer here.

[1] The facts in this paragraph are from the National Museum of the U. S. Air Force website, www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.
[2] Information about the 1909 Military Flyer can be found on the National Museum of the U. S. Air Force website.
[3] National Museum of the U. S. Air Force website. Please visit their website for detailed information regarding all of their exhibits and galleries.
[4] http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2001554821 Gemini B
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2001550891 Fourth Bldg
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2001541900 AirOne
http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2001536657 AvroCar

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