National Museum of the United States Air Force – Greene County

This is my #1 favorite place to visit in the state of Ohio. This may come as a surprise to those that know me, and that I’m absolutely terrified of flying. In this post, I’m going to take a quick look at a few of my favorite aspects of the museum…in convenient list form. I hear the kids like the lists these days.

There are many different ways to experience this museum.First of all, it’s a history museum. There’s a new story around every corner. Even if you’re not a history buff, it’s also one of the most unique art museums you’ll ever find. It’s also a memorial for all the people that sacrificed everything so that we can do what we do today. I’m going to hit a little bit on all of these aspects here…but if I tried to cover everything, this post would be dozens of pages long. Without further ado…

5 displays that aren’t airplanes.

1.WWII Nissen Hut and 8th Air Force Control TowerIMG_1321These are both recreations of buildings used in England WWII. You can tour both of them during certain hours. The Nissen Hut was kind of a debriefing hall, with a second room that was a bar / hang out area. The control tower shows off all of the electronics and such that were used to keep the airports running during war time. Unfortunately, they were closed at the time I visited on this day. I may go back and do a special post on just these two buildings.

2. Prejudice and Memory IMG_1183

This small, but powerful exhibit about the Holocaust sits in the hall way between the Early Years and WWII galleries, and helps fill in the history gap between the two halls.There are some incredible artifacts and amazing stories told in this area.

3. Disney Pins on WingsIMG_1210

I’m a Disney fan, so this exhibit always holds special place for me. It’s a small exhibit that tells about the efforts Walt Disney and his animators took to help boost morale of the troops by designing squad patches and aid in the support of the war effort through cartoons.

4. Return With HonorIMG_1251

This exhibit talks in great detail about prisoners of war. The picture above shows about how prisoners would tap secret coded messages through cell walls. This exhibit sits in the Southeast Asia gallery, and has a section specifically talking about the Hanoi Hilton.

5. Doolittle Raiders IMG_1199

The Doolittle raid on Tokyo was a great boost in morale for America in WWII. One of the unique things they did to commemorate the raid was to have an annual “toast” to those that were lost during the raid, as well as those that had passed away since the last toast. Each raider was presented with a silver goblet with their names inscribed on them twice…once upside down so their name could always be read. When one of the raiders died, their goblet was ceremoniously turned upside down. The original plan was to have a final toast when there were only two goblets left. However in 2013 – when there were 4 left – those 4 men had one final toast, and finally called their mission complete. Today those goblets, and the Congressional Medal of Honor they received, sit in the Air Force Museum. I make it a point to go by this exhibit every time I visit. I think the first time I recall seeing this exhibit there were 10-11 goblets upright. Today there are only two.

5 Displays from the Memorial Park

Outside the museum, adjacent to the parking lot (which used to be a runway) is a park with hundreds of memorials to the various squadrons that have existed through the Air Force’s history. Every tree, and every statue in this park is a memorial. They are currently developing a second phase to this park in the grassy area even further out. This park has a nice winding path, and could almost be an entire visit in itself.

1. Valor ParkIMG_1318

This is dedicated to Air Force Medal of Honor recipients.

2. P-51 MustangIMG_1143

3. Tribute to Forward Air Controllers Lost in Southeast AsiaIMG_1157

4.B-26 Martin MarauderIMG_1163

5. River Rats MemorialIMG_1147

5 Planes

Of course, the main attraction to the museum is the vast array of airplanes. From the Wright Flyer to the Stealth Bomber, a little bit of everything is on display here. Currently, a few planes I would like to highlight are off display…I’ll explain that in just a minute…

1. Kellet K-2/K-3 AutogiroIMG_1178

I always joke that this airplane / helicopter hybrid is what you get when your two model kits have extra parts. This plane was build in 1932, and was made with the goal of decreasing takeoff distances. Unfortunately, it wasn’t powerful enough for military purposes. Only 6 were made.

2. BT-14IMG_1180

This one’s not as interesting as a plane as it is a shift in the way the museum tells stories. For decades, this museum was only “here’s a plane with a plaque in front of it” this was the first plane that I can remember that was displayed in such a manner as to tell the story of pilot training.

3. F-84E ThunderjetIMG_1243

On planes as art, this one is my favorite. I love the chrome of the plane, and the tail colors show off that even in war, there’s room for a little fun.

4. F-86H SabreIMG_1279

Probably one of the most famous planes in the museum. This one shows you just how complex the machinery is just underneath that thin outer metal covering.

5. B-2 SpiritIMG_1294

The only thing I wish is that there was a better overhead viewing location for this plane. It sits so high that you can’t really get a good look at its overall shape.

I really could go on and on. There’s just so much to see in this museum. It’s hard to do it all even in one day…and that’s just going to get harder in a couple weeks when the new 4th building opens!

IMG_1285
Entrance to the 4th building from the current Missile Room

 

IMG_1322
New building off in the distance. The door was open because they had just moved a plane in.

This new building is going to show off the Research & Development, Presidential, and Space related collections. The ribbon cutting is June 8 and the official opening ceremonies will be June 11-12. I will attempt to go and document it as soon as possible.

Final Tips / Thoughts

If you do plan on going, keep a few things in mind:

This museum is on an active military base, as such, you will go through a metal detector upon entry. No weapons are allowed, and bags may be searched. No food or drinks are allowed in the museum, although there is a decent cafe on the second floor (I recommend the chili).

It is a Government facility…so if Congress decides to shut down (as happened a couple years ago), this museum will be closed.

They have one of the best gift shops I’ve ever seen in a museum. Bring some money, there’s a lot of cool stuff.

To find out more information, check their website:

http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Home.aspx

If you’d like to see more of my photos of the Memorial Park, see my flickr album here…

Air Force Museum: Memorial Park

More pictures from inside the museum are here…

Air Force Museum – Inside

 

Please leave a comment! Thanks for reading. This officially makes 2 of 88 counties.

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