Air Force Museums

Are you interested in aviation?  Do you want an up close look at some of the most important aircraft in history?

The United States Air Force maintains a number of museums across the country. Some of which cover general aviation, while some focus on a specific topic.  While military aircraft is the primary focus, some historic civilian planes are also featured.

National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio-The oldest and largest of the Air Force museums, displaying over 360 aircraft.  Located near the birthplace of the Wright Brothers, the NMUSAF has a focus of the history of flight, including a replica of the Wright Flyer.  Also of note is the B-29 Superfortress which dropped the “Fat Man” atomic bomb and the B-17 “Memphis Belle”.  A seperate facility houses presidential aircraft, including the Boeing 707 used by John F. Kennedy on that fateful trip to Dallas.

Air Force Space & Missile Museum, Cape Canaveral, Florida-Located near the Kennedy Space Center, this museum focuses on the early American Space Program.  Known for it’s rocket garden of outdoor exhibits.

Hill Aerospace Museum, Ogden, Utah-Featuring over 90 aircraft including the B-17 Flying Fortress, and the A-10 Thunderbolt.

Museum of Aviation, Warner Robbins, Georgia-the second largest Air Force museum features aircraft on display over 51 acres.  The SR-71 Blackbird on display is the current record holder for airspeed.  Other exhibits focus on cargo planes, helicopters and training aircraft.

Strategic Air and Space Museum, Ashland, Nebraska-Focusing primarily on the Strategic Air Commend defense systems, this museum features several rare and experimental aircraft.  These include the Avro Vulcan, a B-36J Peacemaker and a B-52 Stratofortress.

These are just a few of the Air Force museums available to visit across the country.  Most of them free of charge.  Of course, visit your Library’s Travel Neighborhood for these and other vacation ideas.

Do you have a favorite specialty museum?

  • Kim

    Nice blog, Brian! And since you asked, here are three of my favorite specialty museums that I would gladly visit again and again:

    The Museum of Flight in Seattle is excellent, so much to see, experience, and read about. It’s entertaining for the whole family. Another of my favorites is the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York (the Thousand Islands area). Rides in vintage boats are available, and the number of unique boats (some are truly works of art) on display inside the unusual exhibit space was surprising. I remember walking in and thinking “why haven’t I heard more about this place?” Locally, the Steamboat Arabia museum in Kansas City is one of the best anywhere!

  • Matt

    Excellent list Brian! I have been to two of the Air Force museums: Strategic Air and Space and the National Museum. Both are astounding and on my list for second visits when I get the chance. I have enjoyed two aviation-related museums here in Kansas and Missouri. The Kansas Aviation Museum in Wichita is housed in the old Art Deco terminal and they have a few things outside–a B-52. I like the Aviation History Museum at the KC Downtown airport. They have a TWA Lockheed Constellation, a very cool old passenger plane that was a staple before the Jet Age.

  • Nate

    I’m going to have to check some of these out, Brian! I’m almost ashamed to admit I’ve never been to the Strategic Air Museum in Ashland, NE, considering I used to live in that general vicinity and have driven by it on the Interstate many times.

  • Kriss Marzetta

    Having grown up in Dayton, Ohio, I have made many visits to the National Museum ofthe USAF and visit everytime I go home to visit I make a trip to the museum. If you are interested in aviation and space, this is definitely a museum you willl want to visit. Admission is free and it usually takes me two full days to get through all the exhibits. The musuem is located only 10 minutes off of I-70, so if you ever find yourself traveling through Ohio, try to include a visit to the museum on your trip.

  • Brian

    Nate: I’ve only recently learned of the Ashland museum, it’s on my “Must See This Summer” list.
    Kriss: We spent nearly a couple hours at the Dayton Museum and then came back the next day for the presidenial exhibit.
    There are many other official Air Force Museums. Then, of course, there are numerous “civilian” aviation museums, many with both military and civil aircraft. Topeka’s own Combat Air Museum and the Airline History Museum (mentioned by Matt).
    I hope everyone has a chance to visit these and other “specialty” museums across the country.