Monday, May 25, 2009

Family Fun: National Museum of the US Air Force

If your kids are into planes or if you are a big kid that used to be (and secretly still is) into planes, you simply have to visit the US Air Force Museum near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton Ohio.

Kate and I spent the weekend in Dayton at the Adidas Warrior Classic Soccer tournament. A large, well-run soccer tournament, the Warrior Classic was a great tourney to wrap up our spring season. Coincidentally, my mother lives reasonably close to Dayton, so it was a great chance to bring Grandma out to the soccer park to watch Kate's team.

Our tourney ended after the Sunday morning game, and we were only a few blocks away from the USAF museum. I suggested that since it was still early, a quick jaunt through the exhibits might be fun. Grandma was up for it, so we dropped in.

It's been a few years since I'd gone through the museum, but I remembered leaving the last time thinking how unbelievable the place was. Here's a quick list of the displays that are there now.

  1. The Early Years -- From the Wright Brothers first flight up to the early WW I planes, this hangar has your head on a swivel trying to take in all of the different restorations.
  2. The WW II Era -- Flying Tigers, Spitfires, and a Messerschmidt 262 were among the planes displayed in this hanger.
  3. Modern Flight (Asia Pacific Wars) -- Walk inside a B-29, or just stand back and look up at the B52 with your jaw hanging open like bomb bay doors. They also have an F22 Raptor and one of those "Predators" we hear so much about lately.
  4. Cold War Exhibit -- This was one of the more interesting exhibits for both Kate and I as I tried (clumsily) to explain the Cold War to her. She wrote a blog entry about the conversation. The plane she is referring to is the CONVAIR B-36J PEACEMAKER -- but, no matter, as you can see, she got the gist of it.
  5. Missile & Space Gallery -- Frankly, after 3 very large hangars FULL of planes, we ran out of steam before getting to the Missile & Space gallery. It opened with the Apollo 15 command capsule (and that was amazing enough!) We'll start in this area next time.
  6. In addition, the museum had a nice section remembering Bob Hope's contributions to the military which was unexpected but after some consideration seemed very appropriate for this weekend.

Folks seriously, in a few hours we maybe saw 25% of these exhibits and skipped an entire hangar full as well as all the exhibits outside. It was just overwhelming, and upon leaving I repeated the same endorsement that I give every time I go there. This is absolutely the best family museum day trip in Ohio, possibly the nation. By the way, if the economy has you watching your pennies -- no worries -- admission is FREE. No seriously, it is FREE. So pack up your young aviators, and get there this summer.

One last thing,

After a long weekend of soccer in high heat, Grandma, Kate and I wandered back to the entrance. The museum was busy and I'd parked a fair distance away so I had them find a seat in the shade while I made the long hike to the car. I found a sidewalk that made it's way through a shady lawn area as it headed out to the car. I soon realized that this area was, in fact, the museum's Memorial Park where there were many, many markers and commemorative displays dedicated to all of those men and women who chose to serve and gave all they had. As I passed these markers, it struck me that what started as a little bit of family fun had turned into one of the best celebrations of Memorial Day that I could have imagined.

Happy Memorial Day,

No comments:

Post a Comment