National Museum of the United States Air Force
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH 45433
Open seven days a week
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year's Day
Admission and parking are free.
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Lt Gen (Ret) John L Hudson, Director
The National Museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the service's national institution for preserving and presenting the Air Force story. Each year more than one million visitors come to the museum to learn about the mission, history and evolving capabilities of America's Air Force.
The museum is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum featuring more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles on display amid more than 17 acres of indoor exhibit space. Thousands of personal artifacts, photographs and documents further highlight the people and events that comprise the Air Force storyline, from the beginnings of military flight to today's war on terrorism.
The museum's galleries present many rare and one-of-a-kind aircraft and aerospace vehicles and thousands of historical items that chronicle the evolution of military flight from the Wright brothers to today's stealth aircraft. Sensory-rich exhibits, featuring mannequins, artifacts, sound effects and theatrical lighting, place aircraft in context and bring history to life by dramatizing and personalizing the events depicted. Visitors walking through the museum can view multiple galleries focusing on the various eras of military aviation and Air Force history, including the early years, World War I, World War II, Korea, Southeast Asia, the Cold War and the present.
A number of popular and historically significant aircraft headline the museum's growing collection. Particularly noteworthy aircraft from the early years include a rare SPAD XIII, Caproni CA 36 bomber and an MB-2 bomber. The World War II collection includes the B-29 Bockscar that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, along with a P-51 and Japanese Zero. The F-86 and MiG-15 help represent the Korean War, with the F-4 among Vietnam standouts.
Modern favorites include the B-52, B-1, F-15, F-16, F-117 stealth fighter, the Predator, Reaper and Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft, the F-22A Raptor and the world's only permanent public exhibit of a B-2 stealth bomber.
The museum features a world-class collection of presidential aircraft, including SAM (Special Air Mission) 26000, a Boeing VC-137C that served as President John F. Kennedy's Air Force One.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force collects, researches, conserves, interprets and presents the Air Force's history, heritage and traditions, as well as today's mission to fly, fight and win ... in Air, Space and Cyberspace to a global audience through engaging exhibits, educational outreach, special programs, and the stewardship of the national historic collection. These statutory duties delegated by the Secretary of the Air Force are accomplished on behalf of the American people. We are the keepers of their stories.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force traces its birth to 1923 at McCook Field near Dayton; it moved to Wright Field in 1927. The museum closed from 1940 to 1955 due to urgent need for administrative space to support the war effort.
In 1960 local interest in aviation history led to the creation of the Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., to secure funds for the museum. A nationwide fund-raising campaign resulted in the construction of a new $6.5 million facility in the late 1960s, with President Richard Nixon dedicating the new building in September 1971. In 1976 the foundation donated a $1 million addition to the building, and in 1988 the foundation and federal government funded equally a major $10.8 million expansion. The IMAX Theatre and atrium, a $7.3 million project funded by the foundation, opened in 1991. In 2003 the museum opened the $22.3 million, 200,000 square-foot Eugene W. Kettering Cold War Gallery. The third building is the centerpiece of a major, multi-phase expansion. The latest addition, a $3.4 million Missile and Space Gallery constructed as a missile silo, opened in 2004.
The museum's artifact collection includes thousands of items from all periods of U.S. military aviation history. Unique artifacts include fabric from the 1903 Wright Flyer, items given to Bob Hope from members of the Armed Forces, and President Ronald Reagan's overcoat from his World War II Army Air Force days. These artifacts, in addition to the more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles on display, help tell the story of the U.S. Air Force.
Animating the Air Force story, the museum offers a wide variety of special events and educational programs to connect the service with the public. Through its education office, the museum has more than 160,000 contacts each year with students, teachers, youth groups and family members through hands-on learning activities, workshops, tours and curriculum materials. In doing so, the museum helps inspire tomorrow's Airmen and cultivates future air power advocates.
The museum manages hundreds of special events a year. Favorites include the biennial World War I Dawn Patrol Rendezvous, the annual Giant Scale Radio-Controlled Model Aircraft Air Show, outdoor and indoor concerts featuring the Air Force Band of Flight, the Wings and Things Guest Lecture Series and more.
The U.S. Air Force operates the museum complex. The commander of the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base maintains operational oversight of the museum, with the History Office of the Secretary of the Air Force in Washington, D.C., providing policy guidance.
Is the museum handicapped accessible?
The facility offers exterior access ramps. The majority of museum exhibits are located on the ground floor, and access to the cafe and IMAX Theatre is provided via elevators. Closed captioning is available on museum audiovisual exhibits.
Note: The museum's floor is concrete, and visitors are advised to wear comfortable shoes. Chairs and benches are located throughout the museum galleries.
Do you have wheelchairs or motorized carts available for my use?
There is a limited supply of wheelchairs and motorized carts available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis (weight limit is 350 pounds). Please bring your own wheelchair if possible.
What aids do you have available for visitors with hearing disabilities?
Amplified neckloop headsets are available at the information desk for visitors using T-Coil Hearing Aids. Note: You must have a telecoil hearing aid to use the neckloop system, and you must switch your hearing aid to the "T" setting when using the system.
Does the museum offer educational programs for visitors with special needs?
The museum offers several programs designed specifically for special needs visitors, including touch tours and guided tours for the hearing impaired. Arrangements must be made at least three weeks in advance through the museum's Education Division.
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