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Posted 8/6/2014 Printable Fact Sheet
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
DAYTON, Ohio -- Aerial view of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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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.

Museum Operations
The U.S. Air Force operates the museum complex through government appropriated funds. 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. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. John L. Hudson serves as director, and the museum's 96 federal civil service positions cover a variety of areas, including exhibits, collection, research, aircraft restoration, operations, education, special events, planning, public affairs and administration. More than 500 volunteers provide an important contribution in diverse areas from greeting and assisting visitors to leading tours and helping restore aircraft.

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 Space Shuttle Exhibit features NASA's first Crew Compartment Trainer (CCT-1), which was used to train astronauts on operating the Space Shuttle Orbiter, and highlights the long history of the USAF/NASA partnership. The museum also features a world-class collection of experimental and presidential aircraft, including the only remaining XB-70 Valkyrie and Air Force One, SAM (Special Air Mission) 26000, a Boeing VC-137C that served eight presidents.

Education and Events
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, Space Fest, the Giant Scale Radio-Controlled Model Aircraft Air Show, concerts featuring the Air Force Band of Flight, the Wings and Things Guest Lecture Series and more.


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 facility in the late 1960s, with President Richard Nixon dedicating the new building in September 1971. In 1976 the foundation donated an addition to that building, and in 1988 the foundation and federal government funded equally a second exhibit building. The IMAX Theatre and atrium opened in 1991. In 2003 the museum opened the 200,000 square-foot Eugene W. Kettering Cold War Gallery, the first phase of a major expansion. A Missile and Space Gallery constructed as a missile silo, opened in 2004, and the theatre underwent an $800,000 renovation in 2012 as part of its conversion to a 400-seat digital 3D theatre.

The Air Force Museum Foundation, Inc., was established in 1960 as a philanthropic, non-profit organization to assist the museum when federal funds are not available. Since its inception, the foundation has contributed more than $85.6 million for museum construction, expansion and facility upgrades. The foundation operates the museum store, digital 3D theatre, cafeteria and interactive simulators. It receives its funds primarily through the operation of these activities as well as through foundation membership, donations and bequests. Its website is

Location, Hours and Website
The museum is located six miles northeast of Dayton, accessed easily off Interstates 70 and 75 to Interstate 675, exit 15, which is the Colonel Glenn Highway exit.

The museum is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Parking and admission are free; however, there is a charge for the Air Force Museum Theatre and interactive simulators. For more information, visit the museum on the Web at To experience a virtual tour of the museum, visit

Point of Contact
National Museum of the United States Air Force, Public Affairs Division, 1100 Spaatz St., Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 45433-7102; (937) 255-4704.

Revised August 2014

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