8 things you didn’t know about the Air Force museum

Dayton is home to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, which houses a plethora of aeronautical history and science. 

Here are some things you might not have known about the Air Force Museum: 

It wasn’t always an aviation museum.

Originally an engine museum with aviation engines that opened in December 1917, the facility became the Air Force Technical Museum by late 1918.

In 1956, it was renamed as the Air Force Central Museum and then as the Air Force Museum until 2004 when it received its current name. 

Located at McCook Field as the engine museum, it relocated at Patterson Field until 1970, when it moved to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. 

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Historical aircraft restoration

Several of history’s most important planes have been restored at the museum, including the legendary Memphis Belle. It’s set to be displayed for the public in May 2018.

Restorations are heavily cared for by volunteers. 

These restorations are meant to preserve their historical accuracy not keep them up to date with today’s flight standards.

Famous aircraft have called AF Museum home

The Boeing 707 SAM 26000 (Air Force One), Memphis Belle, X-15 rocket plane, “Hanoi Taxi” and many others are housed in the museum. 

The fourth hangar houses several aviation tools and aircraft used to help train NASA, showing off teamwork done between NASA and the Air Force. 

» READ MORE: Meet the famous aircraft at the Air Force museum

400 acres of land

The museum has four buildings that house numerous galleries. They include: The William E. Boeing Presidential Gallery, the Allan and Malcolm Lockheed and Glenn Martin Space Gallery, the Maj. Gen. Albert Boyd and Maj. Gen. Fred Ascani Research and Development Gallery and the Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Global Reach Gallery. 

The indoor facility is more than 19 acres of exhibition space, while the entire campus holds around 400 acres of land. 

The most recent hangar opened in 2016 and is 224,000 square feet. 

The museum has grown over time to house thousands of artifacts and hundreds of aircraft.


Presidential history

The recently built fourth building at the museum houses a presidential gallery. It includes the Boeing 707 that carried the body of President John F. Kennedy after he was assassinated.

The museum’s history with presidents goes beyond aircraft. Richard Nixon spoke at the museum’s dedication ceremony on Sept. 3, 1971.

A memorial, as well as a museum

The museum not only reminds those of the machines used by the Air Force but of the people that served and gave their lives to the cause of freedom. 

The museum has more than 600 memorial pieces placed throughout the memorial park. 

Most notable is a replica tower of the 8th Air Force Control Tower that serves as a reminder of those who helped control the flow traffic to the field during the war for both American and Great Britain forces. 

There is a replica 1940’s bar and briefing room in the Nissen Hut next to the control tower, as well. 

Education for all ages

Those interested in STEM, social studies, literature or art fields can learn at the museum through different programs to study military aviation or aerospace history. 

Their programs range from kindergarten to senior citizens. 

Visitors can also visit their restoration center on Fridays by registering in advance. 

Open to the public

It may seem obvious that a museum is open to the public, but it’s another matter for a museum to be free to the public, except for a couple special exhibits.

The National Air Force Museum is free to the public and is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. 

For more information, visit its website.

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