Day 15: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Saturday we had planned a little “gap” day to break up the driving. We stayed an extra night in Dayton, Ohio so we could go see the National Museum of the US Air Force.

It’s located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force base and is the largest military aviation museum in the world. They have a LOT of stuff in there!!!

There’s information and displays relating to Early Aviation (like the Wright brothers’ story), World War I/World War II, Korean War, SE Asia War, Cold War, a missile gallery, a space gallery, a global reach gallery and a Presidential gallery (retired Air Force Ones). It’s humongous.

Wright Brothers exhibit, learning about the first airplanes

The World War areas were super interesting. There was more information in there than we could have read in days, so we just did our best to read what we could and move through the large museum. It was only open 9-5….

War time ambulance
So much more than just old planes! A full history of everything relating to the wars AND the Air Force.

The museum was really great. And, it’s free!! (Donations accepted, which we gave.)

Kind of blows my mind to see how quickly, relatively speaking, the technology advanced from that first Wright brothers plane to the massive jets and fighter planes that exist today. (Or even those they used back in the world wars!! It was such a quick progression! Pretty amazing.)

The collection of planes was beyond impressive, too. Wow. The boys really seemed to like looking at them all. (They especially liked looking for any “nukes” strapped to the planes…. Ha.)

Ethan has read probably 15-20 books at least on World War II and knows a lot about that whole time period. So it was really cool to see those old fighter planes and everything in person.

The atomic bomb (the 2nd one) called the Fat Man that the US dropped on Nagasaki in 1945, which ultimately resulted in Japan’s surrender and finally led to the end of the war.
We learned about Mexico’s small, but nevertheless helpful!, contribution to World War II as an ally to the US. None of us actually knew that Mexico was involved in WWII!
Got to go inside some. Wayyyy too many buttons for me. 😆

In the cockpit:

The Missile gallery and information on the Minuteman missiles:

Apparently the current Minuteman IIIs are spread out around the country in remote areas, stored underground in secure bases. They store them in very remote, unpopulated areas so that if another country ever tries to come and destroy them somehow, they aren’t in like, the middle of a city! I think some are in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota currently.
A space shuttle exhibit

The presidential gallery area was super cool!! It houses a bunch of the old Air Force Ones (the planes that carry the president around the world), like from the era of Presidents Truman , Eisenhower, Johnson, etc.

We could go inside a bunch of them.

The most impressive, definitely, was the larger Boeing VC-137C, which was the first jet aircraft specifically designed for use by the President of the United States.

This was JFK’s plane!! Jackie O. designed the paint scheme.

This was cool!! I read that JFK actually flew on this on his way to Texas, where he was assassinated. This very plane later flew his body back to DC, AND Vice President Lyndon Johnson was actually sworn in as President, urgently, while standing on this plane.

Place where Johnson was sworn in after JFK’s death

ALSO, this plane served as Air Force One for (besides Kennedy and Johnson): Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton.

Pretty historical! Very cool.

A few more massive military planes:

The kids did a “flying simulator” (I think it was a fighter plane, trying to hit targets) and then a Virtual Reality ride too.

Checking out their scores
A ginormous flag. My hats off to all those who serve/have served in the past! There is 0% of me that ever wants to parachute out of a moving plane while being shot at/simultaneously crashing (or anything of the sort). 😬😬 (My cousin was a paratrooper! Eek. Nope, no way. Couldn’t do that!)

We stayed until they closed at 5! My feet were getting tired. 🙂

Stopped at yet another local brewery for our real last dinner of the trip… (don’t judge….I swear we don’t eat garbage food every day in real life. Vacation mode= pretty much anything goes. 🙂 Back to reality very soon.)

Ivan and I shared some really good carne asada tacos! He was excited it was REAL carne asada, the thinner Mexican cut steak. Topped with cotija cheese, onion and cilantro. (Onions are vegetables, see?? 😜)

We had hoped to use the hotel hot tub, but another family sort of parked themselves in it for a really long time.. we eventually gave up after they didn’t seem to be getting out any time soon. Oh well!

Daily gratitude: I am grateful for the WordPress app!! Without it I would never have been able to write up these posts while I was away, and trust me, I would have NEVER returned to journal in this much detail after the fact.

4 thoughts on “Day 15: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force”

  1. That plane still exists, wow. It is an oddly filmed movie which I do not recommend, but Natalie Portman in 2016’s “Jackie” shows that LBJ swearing-in scene. She still has blood on the pink suit she wore that morning in the parade while she is standing there, I can’t imagine the wave of emotions that brought for her.


  2. You know the best part of your trip that I love? being able to do it with your parents. I’m sad to say we haven’t the chance to do one with our family before my dad passed away suddenly. the last trip we did was yellow stone in 2015 when I was still pregnant. still fond memory of it.

    food is the only part that I don’t like when traveling for long… vegetable is always lacking and my body can feel it. but soon you’ll be home and eat your normal food…. even salads could be comfort food 🙂


  3. What an incredible trip! Thank you for letting us come along for the journey. Also, these will be great to look back at when your boys head off to college and they say MOOOOMMM … we never went or did ANYTHING! lol

    I am sure that getting back to work and school will be tough after such a long trip but it was well worth it. Do you think if you had to go to one place for 2 weeks you’d get bored? My parents took us to Jamaica one summer and we were there for 12 days but because it was a place with all kind of activities and trips we never got bored but I think my parents were worried they’d get tired of sitting at the beach! lol 😛


  4. What a cool museum! Love that they have old airforce one planes. I have always been so interested in JFK and Jackie. I remember reading as many books about him as I could from my elementary library when I was a kid.

    There are so many nuclear weapons in my home state of ND since it’s so unpopulated. I wanted to say that if ND was it’s own country, it would be in the top 3 nations in terms of nuclear power or something like that. Phil would know off the top of his head as he’s the one who told me that fact!

    My BIL – the one we saw at the lake that lives in AZ – is an air force pilot. He mostly flies drones and has recently gotten out of a more active duty role and has a different role. I’ll have to tell my sister about this museum if they ever end up in Dayton. He ends up traveling quite a bit and will sometimes get stationed somewhere for a short-term assignment so there is always a chance he ends up back in Dayton for a stint.


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