Museum Monday: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

There are close to 700 aviation and space museums around the country.

Each Monday here at StuckatTheAirport.com, we feature one of them.

This week: The National Museum of the US Air Force.

This museum has a lot of fans and I took a lot of heat for leaving it out of a recent msnbc.com column – Aviation Museums that Soar – that only had room to mention six aviation and space museums around the country.

So here we go:

USAF Museum Northrop B-2

Northrop B-2 Spirit at the National Museum of the U. S. Air Force

With 17 acres of indoor exhibition space and more than 400 aerospace vehicles in its collection, the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, OH, is the largest military aviation museum in the world.

In addition to an IMAX theater, and more than a half dozen huge galleries filled with one-of-a-kind aircraft and aerospace  vehicles, the museum has  personal artifacts, photographs, documents and exhibits that help tell the Air Force story.

Air Power Gallery National Museum of the US AIR FORCE

The Air Power Gallery at the National Museum of the US Air Force

If you plan to visit, you might have to pick just a few galleries to see.  And choosing won’t be easy.

In the Early Years Gallery, the aircraft, exhibits and artifacts start with the Wright brothers and continue through World War I and the beginning of World War II.

1909 Wright Flyer at National Museum of the US Air Force

Reproduction 1909 Wright Flyer at National Museum of the US Air Force

In the 140-foot tall, silo-like Missile and Space Gallery you’ll find a collection of missiles that can be viewed from the ground level or from a platform that runs around the inside of the gallery. There’s also the Apollo 15 Command Module, Mercury and Gemini capsules, rocket engines, satellites and balloon gondolas.

USAF Museum Missile and Space Gallery

The Missile and Space Gallery at the USAF Museum

And in the Presidential Gallery, for which there are special entry requirements, you’ll see the airplane that served as Air Force One the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated as well as airplanes used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

President Kennedy leaving Air Force One

President John F. Kennedy disembarking Air Force One

There’s more – lots more – so before you visit be sure to poke around the National Museum of the US Air Force Museum website.

Spad XIII USAF MUSEUM

SPAD XIII at National Museum of the United States Air Force

The USAF Museum is open daily. Admission is free.

A great time to visit might be during Labor Day weekend (Sept 3-5, 2010) when the museum hosts the Giant Scale Radio-Controlled Model Aircraft Air Show with model jets, helicopters and warbirds doing acrobatics in the sky.

Do you have a favorite aviation or space museum? If so, leave a comment below and we may feature your suggestion in a future Museum Monday on StuckatTheAirport.com.

 

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