More than 360 planes, jets, missiles and unusual aircraft are on display in the four hanger buildings of the the world’s largest military aviation museum. In addition to the Air Park near the
entrance, each hanger of the National Museum of the U.S. Airforce includes two distinct exhibits of aircraft and related paraphernalia advancing in time as you wind between them. The Early Years & WWII are in the first hanger; the Korean war and the Southeast Asia (Vietnam) War in the second; the Cold War and missile & space technology in the third and the recently-opened fourth hanger houses Presidential Aircraft and unusual planes in the exhibit on Research & Development. Don’t forget to look up!
Self-guided tours – aided by several series of podcasts – wind past a 1909 Wright Military Flyer - the first military airplane; a giant blimp; one of the massive Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
bombers that have played an important role in every American war since Vietnam; SAM26000 - Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon’s Air Force One - and even the last example of the XB-70 Valkyrie designed in the early 1960s as a supersonic craft to carry nuclear missiles. All tours empty out near the gift shop and stairs to the second floor Valkyrie Café serving burgers, pizza and nachos to battle-worn tourists.
The National Museum of the U.S. Airforce (1100 Spaatz Street) is located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, six miles northeast of Dayton. Be prepared for a bag search and to show picture ID (adults) – large backpacks and carrying cases cannot come into the museum. As one of Ohio’s most popular (and free) tourist attractions the open-daily (9 a.m. til 5 p.m.) museum can get busy, especially for its regular 1:30 p.m. tours, and the extra Saturday tour at 10:30 a.m. Popular advance-registration-required ‘behind the scenes’ tours are slated for Fridays at 12:15 p.m.
Podcasts and additional museum information are available from the museum website or at the entrance and enhance self-guided tours. The museum is serviced by taxi and public transit bus.