Author Topic: Visit to Dayton Ohio  (Read 117 times)

Offline Chris

  • Legendary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2074
  • curmudgeon in residence
Visit to Dayton Ohio
« on: September 06, 2018, 05:55:02 pm »
Last week Rose and I, along with good friend Debby Remmers, went to Dayton Ohio to visit the Museum of the US Air Force there. I also wanted to see the original Wright Brothers flying field at Huffman Prairie which is actually on the land comprising Wright-Patterson AFB. The impetus for the visit was that I wanted to see the famous WW2 B-17 “Memphis Belle” which had been recently put on display after a decade long restoration. I also wanted to see how the museum had changed since the addition of another hanger adding a lot more display space. The short answer is that the Museum, which I had last visited about 20 years ago and thought impressive then, has matured and enlarged into one of the premier aviation collections in the world. The range of its holdings is astonishing and reflects the museum's focus on the history of the USAF and its previous incarnations as the air arm of the US Army. Just how much bigger has the museum grown? In the old days one day was plenty to spend on a visit. This time seven hours of pretty intense museum going only got us through about half of the exhibits. Budget two days to see it all, three if you like talking to people because there are plenty of old AF vets wandering around who lived the history. I told a few stories there myself. Bottom line: If you have any interest in history or airplanes at all you’ll love this museum. Take the kids or grandkids in your life, they’ll love it.

PS: I was unexpectedly moved by the Huffman Prairie site. There’s really nothing much to see...a wooden shed/hanger replica... a recreated launching catapult...a fair sized pasture...the surrounding preserved prairie land. But how many places in the world are there where you can say “it all started right here”? And to stand by that primitive shed and launcher and turn to look at the control tower, hangers and C-17s of Wright-Patt AFB snaps a century of aviation progress into instant perspective.

The new and enlarged Museum now has space to get almost all of its irreplaceable aircraft indoors and has the usual big museum amenities like IMAX theatres and lavish gift shops. GO SEE IT!

A SPAD XIII painted as the 94th Aero Sq. mount of Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker. Just a quick representative of the collection in the Early Years hangar.

A photo of Rickenbacker (center) and his aircraft along with fellow pilots of the 94th in 1918. The 94th and its "Hat in the Ring" emblem still exists and is flying F-22s these days.

The museum has a good exhibit on the Doolittle Raiders and their audacious 1942 mission. Here's the museum's diorama showing then Lt. Col Doolittle and his B-25 on the deck of the carrier USS Hornet. The Raiders chose to have their memorabilia in the USAF Museum and that is incorporated into the exhibit.

Here's the star of the show, the B-17F "Memphis Belle" that was the first bomber and crew to successfully complete their combat tour in Europe in 1943. Hollywood director William Wyler made the Belle famous by producing a wartime documentary titled "The Memphis Belle". She looks simply perfect, restored to her configuration as she flew the 25th mission. A stunning display that shows off the beautiful lines of the B-17 to advantage with probably the most famous individual bomber of the war.

The Belle looks great from any angle.

Walking around the Cold War hangar was very much like a reunion with old friends for me. Here's an old comrade I knew well at Spangdahlem in Germany, The F-4G Phantom Wild Weasel. She made the Iraqi gunners duck during the Persian Gulf.

And here's another old friend from much earlier in my USAF career.  I got to know the B-52D at U-Tapao in Thailand at the very end of the US involvement in Southeast Asia.  You haven't lived until you've crawled into the 47 section in back and enjoyed the warmth inside of a black painted airplane baking under a nice hot tropical sun.  I can remember dropping out of the airplane onto the ramp after working in back and feeling a little chilled in the merely 95 degree heat outside.  I also remember feeling really thirsty since all the moisture in my body had become sweat soaking my jungle fatigue pants to my knees.  Still, the old girl did her job and then some.  Max respect to the crews who flew the BUFFS and the guys I worked with who kept them working.  Real BUFFS have tall tails!

Before my time but an aircraft I was always impressed with. The huge B-36 had a wing span of 230 feet from tip to tip and could fly 10,000 miles unrefueled giving it truly intercontinental range.

As historic an aircraft as you could hope for. This VC-137 serial 62-6000 is the "Air Force One" that flew JFK to Dallas and then was the site of LBJ's swearing in as President. During Johnson's presidency SAM26000 took him to Vietnam twice. It continued to serve as the primary "Air Force One" through Nixon's first term including taking him to China and opening that door. It last carried a sitting President when Clinton used it after his primary "Air Force One" wandered off the taxiway and got a landing gear stuck in the mud in 1998.

During the chopper craze of the early 2000s the USAF noted the popularity of the Discovery Channel show American Chopper, particularly with young men of military age. This led the Air Force to commission a $150,000 "Air Force Bike", first put on public display in March 2005 as a recruiting tool. The motorcycle is ten feet long and is modeled after the F-22 Raptor, complete with Air Force symbol rims, riveted gas tank, Raptor exhausts and rear view mirrors in the shape of jets. It now sits in the USAF Museum's gift shop. I looked but I didn't see a price tag.

The Huffman Prairie Flying Field where the Wright Brothers really learned how to fly in 1904-05. The shed and tripod in the distance are the replica hangar and launching catapult. The land surrounding the flying field is undisturbed prairie which was worth a visit all by itself.

The explanatory signs from the National Park Service did a really good job of setting the scene. Reading them and a little imagination did the rest.

As Rose and Debby read the signs I pretty much just stood and marveled. The flying revolution started right here in view of the control tower and hangars of Wright-Patterson AFB. Watching the C-17s operate just telescoped 100 years of aviation progress into a single image.

« Last Edit: September 06, 2018, 10:44:05 pm by Chris »


1978 GS1000C / 1979 GS1000S / 1981 CM400C / 1986 RG500 GAMMA / 1988 R100RS / 1991 K100RS / 1997 GSF1200 BANDIT


  • Legendary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5363
  • I might be old, but can mount without help. HA!
Re: Visit to Dayton Ohio
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2018, 01:14:26 pm »
DANG Good Report, very interesting.

Guess like 10 or 12 years since we stopped by there for a quick look.  Was in the RV is all I remember, which bought in 1995 and traveled 2 years. Think the Ohio thing was after that 2 years. 
Ride Country Roads - a lot. :-)

Offline skeeter

  • True Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 718
  • if you are gonna go,go old school.
Re: Visit to Dayton Ohio
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2018, 12:36:55 am »
I got lucky years ago and got to go through all the Memphis Belle when it was on Mud Island in Memphis I was there the day they open for the season and nobody else was there then the guy took me all through it once in a lifetime deal
if you are gonna go,go old school.