Military Wiki
National Museum of the United States Air Force
Established 1923
Location Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,
Dayton, Ohio
Coordinates 39°46′55″N 84°06′32″W / 39.781976°N 84.108892°W / 39.781976; -84.108892
Type Aviation museum
Visitors 1,000,000+[1]
Director Lt. Gen. John L Hudson, USAF (retired)
Curator Terry Aitken
Public transit access Greater Dayton RTA Route 11

The museum

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.[2] The NMUSAF is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum[3] with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display.[1] The museum draws over 1.3 million visitors each year making it one of the most frequently visited tourist attractions in Ohio.[4] Admission to the museum is free.


The museum dates back 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 and was housed in a succession of buildings. In 1954 as the Air Force Museum it was housed in its first permanent facility, Building 89 of the former Patterson Field in Fairborn, which had been an engine overhaul hangar, and many of its aircraft were parked outside and exposed to the weather. It remained there until 1971 when the current facility was first opened. Not including its annex on Wright Field proper, the museum has more than tripled in square footage since its inception in 1971.[5]

The museum announced a new name for the facility in October 2004. The former name "United States Air Force Museum" was changed to "National Museum of the United States Air Force".[1]

The museum is a central component of the National Aviation Heritage Area.[6]

Exhibits and collections

The museum's collection contains many rare aircraft of historical or technological importance as well as various memorabilia and artifacts relating to the history and development of aviation. Included in the permanent collections are one of four surviving Convair B-36s, the only surviving XB-70 Valkyrie, and Bockscar—the B-29 Superfortress that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki during the last days of World War II.

The museum launched their 360-degree Virtual Tour in 2010. Visitors can now view the majority of the museum's aircraft and exhibits online.

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 used regularly by Presidents John F. Kennedy through Richard Nixon during his first term; after which it served as the backup Presidential aircraft. This was the aircraft that took President and Mrs. Kennedy to Dallas on November 22, 1963—the day of the President's assassination. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as president aboard it shortly after the assassination; this aircraft then carried the slain President's body back to Washington.[7] It was temporarily removed from display on December 5, 2009, to be repainted. It was placed back on display in the museum on President's Day, 2010.[8] All presidential aircraft are now on display in their own Presidential Hangar next to the R&D/Flight Test Hangar which are both located west of the USAF Museum. As both hangars are behind the perimeter fence on Wright-Patterson AFB property, they are only accessible to the general public by tour bus.

Pioneers of flight

There is a large section of the museum 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

Maj. General Billy Mitchell's uniforms on display

The museum has a large inventory of USAAF and Air Force clothing and uniforms in its collection. At any time over fifty WWII 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. Included in the museum's displays are the jacket worn by Brig. Gen. James Stewart, P-38 ace Maj. 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 peacoat.

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 B-2 Spirit stealth bomber (test aircraft), the F-117 Nighthawk stealth ground attack aircraft and others. Fund raising has begun for a fourth hangar to house the museum's space collection, presidential planes and an enlarged educational outreach area, making all more accessible to the public.

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

The museum owns other aircraft that are on loan to other aerospace museums in the United States. Most of these loaned aircraft duplicate aircraft exhibited by the museum. The museum's staff has very high standards for the quality of care/restoration 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 B-17, Memphis Belle.

Future developments

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 is currently supporting a major capital construction program to expand the museum's current one million square feet of exhibit space with a fourth building that will house the Space Gallery, Presidential Aircraft Gallery and Global Reach Gallery.

Additionally, the Air Force Museum Theater is in the process of upgrading its theatre from IMAX to digital 3D with a stage. This upgrade will allow for a broader range of programming, including educational presentations and live broadcasts, in addition to expanded documentary choices. The renovations will also include a 7.1 surround-sound system, audio devices for the hearing or visually impaired, and personal closed captioning systems.[9]

Partial list of collection

The museum is divided into galleries, covering broad historic trends in military aviation. These are further broken down into exhibits detailing specific time periods and showing aircraft in their historical context.

All aircraft in this list were designed/built in the United States of America, unless otherwise indicated.

Early Years Gallery (1901–1941)

Early years (1901–1917)

  • Wright Brothers 1901 wind tunnel
  • Wright Military Flyer (1909), the first aircraft ever purchased by the U.S. Army Signal Corps
  • Curtiss 1911 Model D, the second aircraft purchased by the Signal Corps
  • Wright Brothers 1911 wind tunnel
  • Blériot Monoplane (France)

World War I (1917–1918)

Sopwith Camel

Martin YB-10 on display at the museum

Museum display depicting a B-25B Mitchell in preparation for the Doolittle Raid

Bockscar and a replica of Fat Man on display at the museum

P-47D-40RA 45-49167 Five by Five at US Air Force Museum

B-24D 42-72843 Strawberry Bitch at US Air Force Museum

Inter-War years (1919–1941)

World War II

Attack Aircraft

Bomber Aircraft

Cargo Aircraft

Photographic Reconnaissance Aircraft

  • North American F-10D Mitchell 43-3374 – (Painted as B-25B – Doolittle Raider's diorama)

Liaison Aircraft

Multi-Purpose Aircraft

Rotary Aircraft

Pursuit Aircraft

Trainer Aircraft

  • Curtiss AT-9 Jeep (advanced trainer)
  • Vultee BT-13 Valiant (basic trainer)
  • Ryan PT-22 Recruit (primary trainer)

Foreign Aircraft

Korean War

C-124 Globemaster II at the museum

Southeast Asia War

Hanoi Taxi (Lockheed C-141 Starlifter) flying over the museum in December 2005

Cold War

Panorama of the Cold War exhibit

Convair B-36 Peacemaker and Lockheed F-94 Starfire

Post Cold War

Missile and Space Gallery

Presidential aircraft

VC-137C – SAM 26000 arriving at the Museum

Research and development aircraft

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.[12]

Other Air Force museums

See: List of United States Air Force museums

See also

Related lists
  • List of aerospace museums


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "History of the National Museum of the United States Air Force". National Museum of the United States Air Force official site. June 2007. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  2. "Visitor info". Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  3. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base – Museum
  4. "Airfoce Museum Attendance". Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  5. Air Force Museum Foundation
  6. "Home of the Wright Brothers". National Aviation Heritage Area. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  7. Keen, Judy (November 20, 2009). "JFK Relics Stir Strong Emotions". USA Today. Retrieved 20 November 2009. 
  8. "Air Force One temporarily off display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force". National Museum of the US Air Force. September 22, 2009. 
  10. "Fact Sheet: Moon Rock". Wright Patterson, Air Force Base, Ohio: United States Air Force. Retrieved 2012-07-18. "WHEREAS, several Dyersburg Masons have distinguished themselves as men of stature in our great state and nation, including the Honorable John S. Tanner, U.S." 
  11. "Factsheets : USAF Established". Retrieved 2012-02-02. 
  12. Air Force Museum Foundation. Retrieved 2010-02-04.

External links

Coordinates: 39°46′55″N 84°06′32″W / 39.781976°N 84.108892°W / 39.781976; -84.108892

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