US Air Force Museum – Dayton

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Air conditioning can make all the difference in the world on a hot muggy night. We both slept like champs. We awoke early and attributed it to sleeping in the cool for the first time in a while. In truth, it was because we set some of the clocks in the RV to CST and were back in Eastern DST. It’s called vacation, so oh well.

Had a nice breakfast of fried eggs, bacon, toast, perked coffee and OJ, Oh, the benefits of having power! Stopped in the camp office to let the ladies know of our problems the night before; they were gracious and grateful. We went to see the site we would be occupying for the next several days, and the power there was working.

We took off for the Air Force Museum in Dayton.  I was anxious to see it, since the last time I saw it was sometime in September 1973.  There have been a few changes in aviation and the air force since then.  There was no real traffic to speak of, but the place was jammed, probably because of our leisurely approach to the morning.  Spotted another, newer, fancier Winnebago View in the parking lot registered in New Jersey.  The rear had some fancy art on the spare tire  proclaiming Winnie the View with a picture of Pooh Bear.  The RV was gone by the time we left the museum.

In 1973 there was one hanger and a number of rare WWII planes on the runway slowly falling apart. On I remember most clearly was a Junker JU 88 that had been brought to the Air Force Museum in 1960, and had been sitting on the runway for thirteen years.  It was in pretty dismal shape at that time, and I remember being perplexed at it’s location out in the open, as I was sure that few survived the war and it’s aftermath.  I found it, completely restored, in flying condition, in the World War II gallery.  I also found the Messerschmidt 262 in the gallery.  When I saw it last, it was in a garish green, and there was a catwalk that allowed you to get a really good view of the cockpit.  According to the museum, the plane was restored between 1976 and 1979 to manufacture condition.  I liked the gritty, it was used and tested character of the plane from 1973.  I think that re-manufacturing it took away all of it’s character and turned it into a giant model airplane for big boys.

Time plays tricks with the mind, and I haven’t dug out the old photos, but I remembered being able to climb into “Bockscar” the B29 that dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, and look at the flight controls.  Sometime since then, it has also been completely restored into as new condition.  It was flown to the museum, so it was in great shape, and I suppose it’s fate is better than the other B29 to drop an atomic weapon, “Enola Gay”.  That plane was neglected, disassembled, displayed in pieces, and then finally placed at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Fairfax, Virginia. Now “Bockscar” is safely placed away from everyone with a docent nearby.

b36We had lunch in the cafeteria, met a nice 87 year old veteran who had been in the Air Force during and after WWII, and returned to our touring. I was wandering around some of the Vietnam era exhibits when Louise noticed a tour passing our way. She pointed the tour out and suggested that we join. I said I wasn’t interested, she followed the tour, and then came back and told me the guy was good. She was right, as usual. We incorporated ourselves into the tour and WOW! the things he told us. Specifics about declassified spy satellites and programs, the reason for the equipment being taken out of inventory, and a sense of how it all went together. Much better than just reading a tag that told you what you were looking at, and the date range for it’s use. I wish they sold a audio copy of the tour.  There was just too much to remember.  We stayed with the tour until the end, and then wandered around some later aircraft that I’ve always likes, or built models of.

I think the overall impression of the Air Force Museum is that’s it a collection of their stuff, that’s not well presented or explained.  More importantly, it’s probably the most persuasive argument for the Air Force being dysfunctional in their approach to national defense.  The museum exhibits equipment from sixty and seventy years ago that was technologically advanced, and constructed specifically for a task.  As you pass through time in the exhibits, you can view aircraft that were built because management wanted them, others that were built because they were needed but really unwanted.  The Air Force has placed aircraft that were retired from their operational role near aircraft that are being shoehorned into the replacement role.  They have a Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II ( a ground support aircraft) sitting near it’s expected replacement the F35 .Anyone looking at the two can tell that the new F35 doesn’t have the ability to do the job, but it looks great, goes real fast and flies really high.

We had a bout twenty minutes after the tour to take in any last minute stuff that we missed, so we wandered around, took in the sites, and I had such a good time that I generally forgot to take any pictures.  The museum closed and we wandered around on the parking ramp and viewed the soon to be restored planes they have in outside storage.  It was a great day, and it wasn’t even over.

Before I retired, I did business with a computer supplier and got to know a great sales representative as a friend.  Margery and I stayed in contact after I retired.  We’ve been friends for a number of years, but we’ve never met.  We made plans for going out to dinner since Louise and I were in town, so we left the museum and drove to a restaurant where we met her.  We had a great time, a wonderful dinner, and went out for drinks afterward.  It was a little off-putting sine I put a face to the voice of my friend and the face of my friend didn’t match that image in my mind.  By then end of the evening things were mostly in place.  It was great to finally meet her in person.

I had forgotten to mark the location of the campsite before we left, and the Garmin has amnesia when it comes to finding things like campsites, so we toured rural Ohio in the process of getting ‘home’.  A twenty minute drive turned into an hour, but we got there eventually.  Settling in was a breeze, the site was almost level, and we were soon snoozing in our cool hideaway.

2 thoughts on “US Air Force Museum – Dayton

  1. SnipinSnit

    Hey folks, this complete and utterly random that I’m here writing this on your blog but here’s my story. I live with my fiancé in Cedar Falls, Iowa and we’re on our way up to Minneapolis for the night. We’re going to the Minnesota Twins game today and the Vans Warped Tour on Sunday. Well on our way up on 35N I had just woken from a short cat nap as we’re coming up on a RV. As we got closer I could start making out a design on the back of the RV. It was Winnie the Pooh and above the lovable honey loving bear it read, “Winnie the View”. Now I have quite the level of curiosity and my Google Fu is strong as well. Long random story short, I came across your blog here that just happened to mention the same RV. I found the whole event interesting and thought I would share it with you. Happy trails!

  2. Bob Kelly Post author

    Strange thing is the ‘Winnie the View’ folks are from new Jersey too! I guess that they get around as much as we do. Thanks for sending me a comment, glad that your Google Fu is strong.

    Be well, safe travels, thanks for the update.

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