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

  • Joe Gurnig
  • Staff Writer
2:17 p.m Thursday, June 15, 2017 Homepage

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: 

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. 

» History Extra: Opening of air force museum
» Memphis Belle: Restoration of America’s legendary aircraft

The United States Air Force Museum in 1970 during construction of the first building. The museum was re-designated as the National Museum of the United States Air Force in 2004. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE

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.

AP Photo/Mitch Stacy
In this May 23, 2017 photo, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, new propellers wait to be installed as part of the restoration of the World War II B-17 bomber known as the Memphis Belle near Dayton, Ohio. The restored plane will go on public display at the museum spring 2018.

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

Ty Greenlees
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force lead a media tour of its fourth building on Friday before adding the first aircraft, a North American X-15A-2, to the cavernous hangar. Retired NASA Astronaut Joe Engle, the only living X-15 pilot, attended the event and talked about flying the experimental rocket plane. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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.

Staff Writer
The crew members pose in front of the 11 World War II era B-25s that landed at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Monday, March 17, 2017, to mark the 75th anniversary of the historic Doolittle Raiders attack against Japan. CHUCK HAMLIN / STAFF

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.

National Museum of U.S. Air Force Public Affairs
An overhead interior view of the fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The fourth building includes more than 70 aircraft in four new galleries – Presidential, Research & Development, Space and Global Reach. (U.S. Air Force photo/Ken LaRock)

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. 

Staff Writer
B 25 missing man formation in honor of theDoolittlie Raiders TY GREENLEES / STAFF

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. 

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.