The National Museum of USAF is located in Dayton, OH, near the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. It boasts more than 360 aircraft on display, with exhibits spanning from the Wright Brothers to the contemporary stealth and precision technology.
The last two years, during my trip to OSH during Airventure, I planned to stop at Dayton to spend a half day at this museum. But weather, and time spoke otherwise. And I am glad. One half day doesn’t do justice to this museum, it requires 2-3 days worth of time so you can visit the three gigantic hangers, the Presidential and R&D Galleries, Huffman Prairie where the Wright brothers conducted test flights, the Wright brothers memorial, bicycle shop and more.
The museum exhibits are organized by period ranging from the early years, World War II, Korean War, South East Asia, Cold War, Missile and Space, Presidential and R&D Galleries. Currently the Missile and Space Gallery is closed. The Presidential and R & D Galleries are located inside the AFB, and limited tickets are available daily on a first come first serve basis. The museum is also planning an extension hanger and the artifacts from the Presidential and R&D Galleries are expected to be moved to the new hanger. Starting October 1st, the Presidential and R&D Galleries are expected to be closed to prepare for their move to the expansion hanger.
After our visit to the Presidential Galleries early in the morning, we spent the remaining time strolling through the three hangers at the main museum. There is a lot to see. I was amazed by the energy and enthusiasm expressed by our very knowledgeable personal tour guide, who is a retired USAF Colonel, and who flew up with us to Dayton 🙂
He could identify and speak about many of the aircraft on display. It was fun to listen to anecdotes and history of the aircraft on display. And even more exciting to see the aircraft he had personally flown over Vietnam on display at the museum.
Afterwards we made it over to Huffman Prairie to visit the sacred grounds where the Wright Brothers had tested and flown their initial flights. After the 1903 flights in Kitty Hawk, the Wright Brothers returned to Dayton and started to use the Huffman Prairie field and built a hanger to experiment and test their second powered airplane in 1904.