As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
Last month, we went to visit with friends in Ohio. There was a wedding taking place that weekend (Gracie was the violinist), and we had grandiose plans of visiting with our dear friends (that we hadn’t seen for many years). However, God had other plan and we ended up entertaining ourselves much of the weekend. It wasn’t all bad, though. We love going to new places and seeing new things. Our friends recommended that we check out the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
The museum is located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just outside of Dayton, Ohio. It’s open daily from 9am-5pm (except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day). And the very best thing of all – the museum is FREE!
We arrived around 3pm, so we only had 2 hours to rush through the HUGE museum. The museum is housed within 3 large airplane hangars. We were able to see the entire thing, but we didn’t have the time to stop and read all the informational signs or really take it all in. (For this reason, I hope to go back sometime and really take our time with it.)
You can see a map of the museum here. After entering and passing through the gift shop, we entered the Early Years Gallery. This section started with the very beginning of flight and airplanes – with the Wright Brothers (from Dayton, Ohio). Ian was intrigued with all the old airplanes on exhibit. Also included in this section were aircraft from WWI.
From there, we moved on to the World War II exhibit. I was intrigued by all the original aviator jackets (I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved them, and many of these were hand-painted with fancy designs on them). There was a section of holocaust memorabilia which was quite moving. There was even an old violin on display.
In the hallway between the first and second hangar, there was a mini-museum area called the National Aviation Hall of Fame. This section was a lot of fun because it contained several hands-on exhibits that the kids all enjoyed experimenting with. There were cock-pits that you could sit in and a few different simulators, etc. It was, quite literally, a museum within a museum!
The next hangar contains the Korean and Southeast Asian War galleries. Having 2 brothers from Korea and 2 children from Vietnam, these exhibits were of interest to us. I wish I would have had more time to read the informational signs and take more pictures. I loved the hand-made Korean flag. (True Disney lovers will find a hint of Disney almost anywhere! Notice how I found it at the Air Force Museum!)
Unfortunately, we were passing through the Vietnam/Southeast Asia exhibit last and they were making announcements about the museum closing. I really wanted the kids to be able to absorb this section a little bit more. Sorry for the blurry picture of Ian, but I thought it was neat that he was pointing to his birthplace!
The last hangar of the museum contains aircraft used during the Cold War, as well as a section designed to Current Operations.
In the very back of the museum, there’s a small section called the Missile & Space Gallery. This is another section I wish we had more time to explore. You could go up on a 2nd story deck and see the missiles from above as well (but we didn’t have time for this).
We were really glad for the opportunity to visit here and will definitely make a return trip if we’re back in the area. I would highly recommend a visit to this museum. Oh, and Ian recommends the astronaut ice cream, available in the gift shop.