National Museum of the United States Air Force

The National Museum of the United States Air Force (formerly the United States Air Force Museum) is the official museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, 6 miles (9.7 km) northeast of Dayton, Ohio.[3] The NMUSAF is the oldest and largest military aviation museum in the world, with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display.[1] The museum draws about a million visitors each year, making it one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Ohio.[4]

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force-North American XB-70 Valkyrie
An overhead view of the fourth building aircraft at the National Museum of the United States Air Force including the North American XB-70 Valkyrie
HEXAGON KH-9 at USAF Museum-1
The KH-9 Hexagon photographic reconnaissance satellite on display at the National Museum of the USAF
National Museum of the United States Air Force
National Museum of the United States Air Force
LocationWright-Patterson Air Force Base,
Dayton, Ohio
Coordinates39°46′53″N 84°06′38″W / 39.78139°N 84.11056°WCoordinates: 39°46′53″N 84°06′38″W / 39.78139°N 84.11056°W
TypeMilitary Aviation Museum
VisitorsAbout 1 million [1]
DirectorDavid Tillotson
CuratorKrista Strider, Deputy Director/Senior Curator[2]
Public transit accessGreater Dayton RTA Route 11
Aerial view of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force 4
Aerial view of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle™
Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle on display in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force-Boeing VC-137C SAM 26000 (Air Force One) 02
An overhead gallery view of the fourth building aircraft at the National Museum of the United States Air Force including the Boeing VC-137C SAM 26000 used as Air Force One by Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.
Apollo 15 Command Module at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
Apollo 15 Command Module Endeavour which orbited the Moon 74 times in 1971


The museum dates to 1923, when the Engineering Division at Dayton's McCook Field first collected technical artifacts for preservation. In 1927, it moved to then-Wright Field in a laboratory building. In 1932, the collection was named the Army Aeronautical Museum and placed in a WPA building from 1935 until World War II. In 1948, the collection remained private as the Air Force Technical Museum.[5] In 1954, the Air Force Museum became public and was housed in its first permanent facility, Building 89 of the former Patterson Field in Fairborn, which had been an engine overhaul hangar. Many of its aircraft were parked outside and exposed to the weather.

Through the 1960s, Eugene Kettering, son of Charles F. Kettering, led the project to build a permanent structure to house the collections and became the first chairman of the board of the Air Force Museum Foundation. When he died in 1969, his widow Virginia took over the project. Her "determination, logic and meticulous attention" kept it on track,[6] and the current facility opened in 1971. Not including its annex on Wright Field proper, the museum has more than tripled in square footage since 1971, with the addition of a second hangar in 1988, a third in 2003, and a fourth in 2016.[7][8]

The museum announced a new name for the facility in October 2004. The former name, United States Air Force Museum, changed to National Museum of the United States Air Force.[9]

The museum is a central component of the National Aviation Heritage Area.[10]

Exhibits and collections

The museum's collection contains many rare aircraft of historical or technological importance, and various memorabilia and artifacts from the history and development of aviation. Among them is the Apollo 15 Command Module Endeavour which orbited the Moon 74 times in 1971, one of four surviving Convair B-36 Peacemakers, the only surviving North American XB-70 Valkyrie and Bockscar—the Boeing B-29 Superfortress that dropped the Fat Man atomic bomb on Nagasaki during the last days of World War II.

In 2010, the museum launched its 360-degree Virtual Tour, allowing most aircraft and exhibits to be viewed online.

In 2016, the museum opened its 224,000 square foot fourth building, bringing its size to 1,120,000 sqft.[11] The addition was privately financed by the Air Force Museum Foundation at a cost of $40.8 million. The building houses more than 70 aircraft, missiles, and space vehicles in four new galleries - Presidential, Research and Development, Space and Global Reach, along with three science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) Learning Nodes.

In 2018, the Boeing B-17F Memphis Belle was placed on permanent public display in the World War II Gallery.[12] The aircraft and its crew became iconic symbols of the heavy bomber crews and support personnel who helped defeat Nazi Germany.

Presidential aircraft

The museum has several Presidential aircraft, including those used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. The centerpiece of the presidential aircraft collection is SAM 26000, a modified Boeing 707 known as a VC-137C, used regularly by presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon. This aircraft took President and Mrs. Kennedy to Dallas on 22 November 1963—the day of the President's assassination. Vice President Johnson was sworn in as president aboard it shortly after the assassination, and the aircraft then carried Kennedy's body back to Washington.[13] It became the backup presidential aircraft after Nixon's first term. It was temporarily removed from display on 5 December 2009, repainted and returned to display on President's Day in 2010.[14]

All presidential aircraft are now displayed in the Presidential Gallery, in the new fourth building.[15]

Pioneers of flight

A large section of the museum is dedicated to pioneers of flight, especially the Wright Brothers, who conducted some of their experiments at nearby Huffman Prairie. A replica of the Wrights' 1909 Military Flyer is on display, as well as other Wright brothers artifacts. The building also hosts the National Aviation Hall of Fame, which includes several educational exhibits.

Uniforms and clothing

USAF Museum Exhibit Enlisted Heritage Uniforms Exhibit
"Enlisted Heritage Uniforms" exhibit on display at National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
Major General Billy Mitchell Uniforms
Major General Billy Mitchell's uniform displayed on far left at National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

The museum has many pieces of U.S. Army Air Forces and U.S. Air Force clothing and uniforms. At any time, more than 50 World War II-vintage A-2 leather flying jackets are on display, many of which belonged to famous figures in Air Force history. Others are painted to depict the air planes and missions flown by their former owners. The displays include the jacket worn by Brigadier General James Stewart, P-38 ace Major Richard I. Bong's sheepskin B-3 jacket and boots, an A-2 jacket worn by one of the few USAAF pilots to leave the ground during the attack on Pearl Harbor, and President Ronald Reagan's USAAF peacoat.

National museum USAF JTAC and Colon-Lopez exhibit
Part of the "Warrior Airmen" exhibit on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

Other exhibits and attractions

The museum completed the construction of a third hangar and hall of missiles in 2004. It now houses post-Cold War era planes such as the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber (test aircraft), the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth ground attack aircraft and others. A fourth hangar was completed in 2016, to house the museum's space collection, presidential planes, and an enlarged educational outreach area. Previously these collections were housed in an annex facility on Area B of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (the former Wright Field). Because the annex was physically located on the base itself, museum guests were required to go through additional security checks before taking museum buses to the hangar.

The museum has a large format theater that shows, for a fee, aviation- and space-oriented films interspersed primarily with other documentaries.

The museum owns other USAF aircraft, including former U.S. Army Air Service, USAAC or USAAF aircraft, that are on loan to other aerospace museums in the United States and overseas, as well as those on permanent static display at various U.S. Air Force installations and tenant activities worldwide, and at Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard installations across the United States. Most of these loaned aircraft duplicate aircraft exhibited by the museum. These other aircraft remain the property of the Department of the Air Force and are typically identified at these locations as being "On Loan from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force." The museum's staff has very high standards for the restoration and quality of care of loaned assets and has, in the past, revoked these loans when it was deemed that these other museums did not have the resources to properly care for an artifact. This happened in the case of the famous Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, Memphis Belle.

In 2013, the Air Force Museum Theater upgraded its theater from IMAX to digital 3D. This upgrade included a new stage, theater seats and a new theater screen to support a broader range of programming—including educational presentations, live broadcasts and expanded documentary choices. The renovations include a 7.1 surround-sound system, audio devices for the hearing or visually impaired, and personal closed captioning systems.[16]

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is in the midst of a multi-phase, long-term expansion plan. The Air Force Museum Foundation recently supported a major capital construction program that expanded the museum to the current 1 million square feet of exhibit space with the addition of the fourth building that now houses the Space Gallery, Presidential Aircraft Gallery and Global Reach Gallery. This new fourth building opened to the public on 8 June 2016.[17][18][19][20] With the addition of new space, more than 70 aircraft that were in storage have been put back on display, such as the XB-70 Valkyrie.[21][22][23] The Presidential Aircraft collection is also back on site, having been moved to an outside location for some time.[24]

The new building's construction was entirely funded via private donations from several different sources.[25]


The museum is divided into galleries that cover broad historic trends in military aviation. These are further broken down into exhibits that detail specific historical periods and display aircraft in historical context.

Air Force Museum Foundation

The Air Force Museum Foundation is a private, non-profit organization that supports the mission and goals of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.[26]

Other Air Force museums

See: List of United States Air Force museums

See also

Related lists


  1. ^ a b "History of the National Museum of the United States Air Force". National Museum of the United States Air Force official site. June 2007. Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 12 September 2008.
  2. ^ "Krista Strider". National Museum of the US Air Force. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Visitor info". Archived from the original on 26 November 2011. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  4. ^ "Airfoce Museum Attendance". Archived from the original on 8 April 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  5. ^ US Air Force Museum Foundation (1972). US Air Force Museum.
  6. ^ McIntire, Bill. "Virginia Kettering". Dayton Daily News. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  7. ^ Air Force Museum Foundation
  8. ^ "Expanding the Legacy". Issuu. Air Force Museum Foundation. p. 19. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  9. ^ "History of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force". United States Air Force. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Home of the Wright Brothers". National Aviation Heritage Area. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Bardua, Rob (19 March 2018). "B-17F Memphis Belle™ moves to WWII Gallery as exhibit opening nears". National Museum of the US Air Force. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  13. ^ Keen, Judy (20 November 2009). "JFK Relics Stir Strong Emotions". USA Today. Retrieved 20 November 2009.
  14. ^ "Air Force One temporarily off display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force". National Museum of the US Air Force. 22 September 2009. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012.
  15. ^ Bardua, Rob (7 June 2016). "National Museum of the U.S. Air Force fourth building now open". National Museum of the US Air Force. Retrieved 30 December 2016.
  16. ^ "Theatre - Air Force Museum Foundation".
  17. ^ USAF Museum opens 4th building
  18. ^ "New Air Force museum hangar to open June 8".
  19. ^ "Air Force Museum to open fourth building". 26 May 2016.
  20. ^ "Upcoming".
  21. ^ "XB-70 Valkyrie moved into museum".
  22. ^ Exotic XB-70 towed to new hangar draws a crowd
  23. ^ Nagy, Attila. "The New Home of the Most Exotic Bomber Ever Built Is Aerospace Heaven".
  24. ^ "Presidential Gallery".
  25. ^ "Air Force Museum Foundation provides funding for museum".
  26. ^ Air Force Museum Foundation. Retrieved 4 February 2010.

External links

External image
Aerial photo of the museum in its previous location

Bockscar, sometimes called Bock's Car, is the name of the United States Army Air Forces B-29 bomber that dropped a Fat Man nuclear weapon over the Japanese city of Nagasaki during World War II in the second – and last – nuclear attack in history. One of 15 Silverplate B-29s used by the 509th, Bockscar was built at the Glenn L. Martin Aircraft Plant at Bellevue, Nebraska, at what is now Offutt Air Force Base, and delivered to the United States Army Air Forces on 19 March 1945. It was assigned to the 393d Bombardment Squadron, 509th Composite Group to Wendover Army Air Field, Utah in April.

Bockscar was used in 13 training and practice missions from Tinian, and three combat missions in which it dropped pumpkin bombs on industrial targets in Japan. On 9 August 1945, Bockscar, piloted by the 393d Bombardment Squadron's commander, Major Charles W. Sweeney, dropped a Fat Man nuclear bomb with a blast yield equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT over the city of Nagasaki. About 44% of the city was destroyed; 35,000 people were killed and 60,000 injured.

After the war, Bockscar returned to the United States in November 1945. In September 1946, it was given to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The aircraft was flown to the Museum on 26 September 1961, and its original markings were restored (nose art was added after the mission). Bockscar is now on permanent display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio, next to a replica of a Fat Man.

Boeing B-50 Superfortress

The Boeing B-50 Superfortress is an American strategic bomber. A post–World War II revision of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, it was fitted with more powerful Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radial engines, stronger structure, a taller tail fin, and other improvements. It was the last piston-engined bomber built by Boeing for the United States Air Force, and was further refined into Boeing's final such design, the B-54. Not as well known as its direct predecessor, the B-50 was in USAF service for nearly 20 years.

After its primary service with SAC ended, B-50 airframes were modified into aerial tankers for Tactical Air Command (KB-50) and as weather reconnaissance aircraft (WB-50) for the Air Weather Service. Both the tanker and hurricane hunter versions were retired in March 1965 due to metal fatigue and corrosion found in the wreckage of KB-50J, 48-065, which crashed on 14 October 1964.

Boeing YQM-94

The Boeing YQM-94 B-Gull (also called Compass Cope B) was a developmental aerial reconnaissance drone developed by Boeing. It could take off and land from a runway like a manned aircraft, and operate at high altitudes for up to 24 hours to perform aerial surveillance, communications relay, or atmospheric sampling.

Charles D. Metcalf

Charles David Metcalf (born 1933) served in the United States Air Force for 36 years, retiring as a Major General. He went on to serve as the Director of the National Museum of the United States Air Force from 1996 to 2010. He is a well known civic leader in the Dayton, Ohio area.

Cornfield Bomber

The "Cornfield Bomber" is the nickname given to a Convair F-106 Delta Dart, operated by the 71st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the United States Air Force. In 1970, during a training exercise, it made an unpiloted landing in a farmer's field in Montana, suffering only minor damage, after the pilot had ejected from the aircraft. The aircraft, recovered and repaired, was returned to service, and is currently on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Douglas O-38

The Douglas O-38 was an observation airplane used by the United States Army Air Corps.

Between 1931 and 1934, Douglas built 156 O-38s for the Air Corps, eight of which were O-38Fs. Some were still in service at the time of the Pearl Harbor Attack in 1941.

The O-38 is a modernized derivative of the O-25, itself a re-engined variant of the earlier Douglas O-2.

Douglas O-46

The Douglas O-46 was an observation aircraft used by the United States Army Air Corps and the Philippine Army Air Corps.

Douglas XB-43 Jetmaster

The Douglas XB-43 Jetmaster is an American 1940s jet-powered prototype bomber. The XB-43 was a development of the XB-42, replacing the piston engines of the XB-42 with two General Electric J35 engines of 4,000 lbf (17.8 kN) thrust each. Despite being the first American jet bomber to fly, it suffered stability issues and the design did not enter production.

Hanoi Taxi

Hanoi Taxi is a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter strategic airlift aircraft (serial number 66-0177) that was in service with the United States Air Force and became famous for bringing back the first returned prisoners of war in Operation Homecoming. This aircraft, which was delivered to the Air Force in 1967, was the last C-141 to be withdrawn from service after a career of almost 40 years, as the last of the fleet was retired in 2006 as sufficient C-17 Globemaster III aircraft became available in the regular Air Force to allow C-141s still serving with Air Force Reserve units to be replaced by the C-5 Galaxy aircraft being seconded from the regular Air Force. The Hanoi Taxi is currently housed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, near Dayton, Ohio.

John Silver (pigeon)

John Silver was a war pigeon active with the United States Army in World War I. He served with distinction during World War I. He was knocked out of the air twice by cannon flak, but he got back up both times and completed his mission. He lost an eye and a leg, so he was given an eye patch and a wooden leg, hence the name "Long John Silver". He is also wearing the medal he was awarded.. As of 2010 the animal is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

KH-9 Hexagon

KH-9 (BYEMAN codename HEXAGON), commonly known as Big Bird or Keyhole-9, was a series of photographic reconnaissance satellites launched by the United States between 1971 and 1986. Of twenty launch attempts by the National Reconnaissance Office, all but one were successful. Photographic film aboard the KH-9 was sent back to Earth in recoverable film return capsules for processing and interpretation. The best ground resolution achieved by the main cameras was better than 0.6 metres (2 ft 0 in).They are also officially known as the Broad Coverage Photo Reconnaissance satellites (Code 467), built by Lockheed Corporation for the National Reconnaissance Office.The KH-9 was declassified in September 2011 and an example was put on public display for a single day on September 17, 2011 in the parking lot of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum.On January 26, 2012 the National Museum of the United States Air Force put a KH-9 on public display along with its predecessors the KH-7 and KH-8.

List of NASA aircraft

This is a list of NASA aircraft. Throughout its history NASA has used several different types of aircraft on a permanent, semi-permanent, or short-term basis. These aircraft are usually surplus, but in a few cases are newly built, military aircraft.

Lockheed AC-130

The Lockheed AC-130 gunship is a heavily armed, long-endurance, ground-attack variant of the C-130 Hercules transport, fixed-wing aircraft. It carries a wide array of ground attack weapons that are integrated with sophisticated sensors, navigation, and fire-control systems. Unlike other military fixed-wing aircraft, the AC-130 relies on visual targeting. Because its large profile and low operating altitudes of approximately 7,000 feet (2,100 m) make it an easy target, its close air support missions are usually flown at night.The airframe is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, while Boeing is responsible for the conversion into a gunship and for aircraft support. Developed during the Vietnam War as "Project Gunship II", the AC-130 replaced the Douglas AC-47 Spooky, or "Gunship I". The sole operator is the United States Air Force, which uses the AC-130U Spooky and AC-130W Stinger II variants for close air support, air interdiction, and force protection, with the upgraded AC-130J Ghostrider entering service. Close-air-support roles include supporting ground troops, escorting convoys, and urban operations. Air-interdiction missions are conducted against planned targets and targets of opportunity. Force-protection missions include defending air bases and other facilities. AC-130Us are based at Hurlburt Field, Florida, while AC-130Ws are based at Cannon AFB, New Mexico; gunships can be deployed worldwide. The squadrons are part of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), a component of the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM).The AC-130 has an unpressurized cabin, with the weaponry mounted to fire from the port side of the fuselage. During an attack, the gunship performs a pylon turn, flying in a large circle around the target, therefore being able to fire at it for far longer than in a conventional strafing attack. The AC-130H Spectre was armed with two 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannons, one L60 Bofors 40 mm cannon, and one 105 mm M102 howitzer; after 1994, the 20 mm cannons were removed. The upgraded AC-130U Spooky has a single 25 mm GAU-12 Equalizer cannon in place of the Spectre's two 20 mm cannons, an improved fire-control system, and increased ammunition capacity. The new AC-130J was based on the MC-130J Commando II special-operations tanker. The AC-130W Stinger II is a modified C-130H with upgrades including a precision strike package.

Memphis Belle (aircraft)

Memphis Belle is a Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress used during the Second World War that inspired the making of two motion pictures: a 1944 documentary film, Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, and a 1990 Hollywood feature film, Memphis Belle. The aircraft was one of the first United States Army Air Forces B-17 heavy bombers to complete 25 combat missions. The aircraft and crew then returned to the United States to sell war bonds. In 2005, restoration began on the aircraft at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio where, from May 2018, it is on display.

National Aviation Heritage Area

The National Aviation Heritage Area is a federally designated National Heritage Area consolidating more than fifteen aviation-related sites in the Dayton, Ohio area into a cooperative marketing and administrative framework. The National Heritage Area is centered on the activities of the Wright Brothers and their workshop at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, itself composed of several sites.Major features of the Heritage Area include the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Grimes Field, and the Neil Armstrong Air and Space Museum, as well as the Wright Cycle Company, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, Hawthorn Hill and Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial units of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. Other cooperating organizations include the aviation archives of Wright State University, Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, the Greene County Historical Society and local visitor centers.The National Aviation Heritage Area was authorized in 2004 and is administered by the National Aviation Heritage Alliance.

North American F-107

The North American F-107 is North American Aviation's entry in a United States Air Force tactical fighter-bomber design competition of the 1950s. The F-107 was based on the F-100 Super Sabre, but included many innovations and radical design features, notably the over-fuselage air intakes. The competition was eventually won by the Republic F-105 Thunderchief, and most of the F-107 prototypes ended their lives as test aircraft. One is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force and a second at Pima Air and Space Museum.

Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby

Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby , originally Shoo Shoo Baby, is a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress in World War II, preserved and currently in storage at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, awaiting transfer to the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. A B-17G-35-BO, serial number 42-32076, and manufactured by Boeing, it was named by her crew for a song of the same name made popular by The Andrews Sisters, the favorite song of its crew chief T/Sgt. Hank Cordes. Photographs of the bomber indicate that a third "Shoo" was added to the name at some point in May 1944 when the original aircraft commander completed his tour of duty and was replaced by another pilot.

The nose art on the airframe was one of some 130 pieces painted by line mechanic Tony Starcer for "The Ragged Irregulars", this one based on Alberto Vargas' "Hawaii" Esquire pin up art.

The Swoose

The Swoose is a B-17D-BO Flying Fortress, USAAF Ser. No. 40-3097, that saw extensive use in the Southwest Pacific theatre of World War II and survived to become the oldest B-17 still intact. It is the only early "shark fin" B-17 known to exist, and the only surviving B-17 to have seen action in the 1941–42 Philippines Campaign, operating on the first day of the United States entry into the war.

VC-137C SAM 26000

SAM 26000 was the first of two Boeing VC-137C United States Air Force aircraft specifically configured and maintained for use by the President of the United States. It used the callsign Air Force One when the President was on board, otherwise SAM 26000 (spoken as 'SAM two-six-thousand'), with SAM indicating 'Special Air Mission.'

A VC-137C with Air Force serial number 62-6000, SAM 26000 was a customized Boeing 707. It entered service in 1962 during the administration of John F. Kennedy and was replaced in Presidential service in 1972 but kept as a backup. The aircraft was finally retired in 1998 and is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.

The aircraft was built at Boeing's Renton plant at a cost of $8 million. Raymond Loewy, working with President Kennedy, designed the blue and white color scheme featuring the presidential seal that is still used today. The plane served as the primary means of transportation for three presidents: Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Richard Nixon during his first term. In 1972, during the Nixon administration, the plane was replaced by another 707, SAM 27000, although SAM 26000 was kept as a back-up plane until 1998.

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