Thursday, February 27, 2014

National Museum — USAF

The one touristy visit we allowed ourselves on our U-Haul vacation was an hour spent looking at old airplanes at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

My honey and I were interested in the museum because both our fathers were pilots during World War II. The museum is made up of three huge airplane hangers filled with aircraft exhibits from early flight to recent rocketry.  We went straight to the World War II hangar to see our fathers' airplanes.

My honey's Dad was a B-17 pilot.  The B-17 in the museum was a later production model.  It is quite a large plane, with four engines.  The museum also had a cutaway engine on the ground, as you can see in the photo. A cousin took a flight in a B-17 and said the view from the clear nose, where a gunner sat, was amazing!

This museum has one of only four P-61 Black Widow in existence, which is what my Dad flew during the war.  It was the first aircraft specifically designed to use radar.  (Other aircraft were retrofitted with radar.) The model the museum owns is also from a later production run.

The P-61 has an interesting tail design. Unfortunately, due to where it is placed in the museum, it's difficult to see the tail fuselage.  Still, it was a treat for me to be able to see the entire aircraft.  Up until now, I had only seen photos, small models and an incomplete version that they are restoring at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum.

It was really great to stop at the museum and on our next visit I hope to spend the entire day.  There's certainly plenty to see.

Now, for anyone who's not tired of old planes yet, here's a video I found on the interweb showing the P-61 in flight.  I'm always amazed by all that's out there to be seen.  Enjoy!


  1. Nice video, but the cheesy jazz music is really annoying. It doesn't belong at all.

  2. Very cool - I have wanted to go there and see their P-61. I have seen the one at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum a couple of times. They are restoring it to flight-ready status, and it is a slow project. I believe the one at Dayton cannot fly, nor do they plan to restore it. Still, I would like to see it someday.