"National Museum of the United States Air Force" Dayton by Tugboatguy

Dayton Travel Guide: 298 reviews and 898 photos

Arrival at Dayton Airport, Vandalia, Ohio

We left EAA AirVenture 2008 at Oshkosh, Wisconsin on the last day of the event to fly to Dayton, Ohio for a too short visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The last time I visited the museum was in the 1970s, and my, what a change! You simply cannot take it all in on a one day visit. We had a 24 hour rental car, and got it back about 23 and a half hours later, so had less than a full day for the museum. Please take more time than we did-it is free and worth several days to fully appreciate all the exhibits, indoors and out.

The photo was taken from N2111Q, a Beech Bonanza that carried us faithfully on our 3,500 mile flying trip. A bit of the aircraft's (fuel) tip tank is shown in the lower left corner. We are arriving at James M. Cox International Airport at Dayton, which is actually nine miles north of Dayton in Vandalia, Ohio. Who is James M. Cox? I don't have a clue. Any help appreciated.

Please click on the small photos to enlarge them.

Statue of Icarus in Entry Lobby of USAF Museum

In Greek Mythology, Icarus, the son of Daedalus escaped from Crete by flying with wings made by Daedalus affixed to his son's body with wax. Icarus flew so high that the sun's heat melted the wax and he plunged to his death in the sea.

Well, that's mythology and the US Air Force is sticking to the story. Make up your own mind about the suitability of Icarus' statue here. Fallen hero, or dumb loser. Just what message are they trying to convey?lol

As a side note, the USAF annually awards one standout aircraft or weapons system the Daedalian Award, a large ornate sterling silver cup about three feet high. I managed the HARM missile project at Point Mugu for 12 years before retirement, and two years into the program, we had the Daedalian Cup Award to display on a rotating basis at the Pacific Missile Test Center, Point Mugu, California. The US Navy was the lead service for the HARM missile development and management, and the USAF used the missile also. So, perhaps I should not be so hard on Daedalus's son.

Scrutinized by a Couple of Earlier Pilots

Here I am at the Wright Brothers Airport just south of Dayton. In their small museum is a replica of the world's first? successful? airplane built by the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, two bicycle mechanics, who demonstrated powered man-carrying flight in 1903 at Kill Devil Hills near Kittyhawk, North Carolina. Alas, in our short late afternoon in Dayton before visiting the USAF Museum the next day we found this museum was closed on our late arrival Sunday. This free museum is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Another replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer is to be found in the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton that we visited the next day. The original restored 1903 Wright Flyer is on display in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D. C. I saw the original there in 1979, so didn't mind missing one of the replicas here. The pose was suggested by Dr. John Edison, M.D., another pilot who took this photo with my camera.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:"Once called the "Air City"-lots of aviation history here".
  • Cons:"Traffic congestion far worse than the 1970s".
  • In a nutshell:"Don't let that deter you from an aviation-themed visit."
  • Last visit to Dayton: Aug 2008
  • Intro Updated Aug 9, 2014
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Reviews (5)

Comments (7)

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Jun 28, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    Nice tips Doug! AF Museum is awesome, thanks for sharing.

  • RickinDutch's Profile Photo
    May 16, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    We're still flying those C-119's up here. Need a jet assist on the roof, but still working.

  • travelgourmet's Profile Photo
    Jan 25, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    Doug. Off we go into the wild blue yonder, Climbing high into the sun. Great tips. Makes we want to go there.

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    Feb 21, 2009 at 5:14 PM

    Doug, These tips and photographs are just fantastic. Your love of flight is so evident in your enthusiasm, vibrant descriptions, and positive take on these historic planes. You should be an ambassador for them!

  • hindu1936's Profile Photo
    Feb 15, 2009 at 1:09 AM

    Thanks much, we ARE going to Dayton just to see the AF museum.

  • SteveOSF's Profile Photo
    Oct 30, 2008 at 1:14 PM

    It looks like a trip to Dayton would be worth it just to see the USAF Museum. Excellent information and tips on the museum! - Steve

  • Maria250's Profile Photo
    Oct 16, 2008 at 9:55 AM

    Fantastic intro shot & things-to-do tip on the USAF museum's outdoor aircraft display. Reminded me on the one (great too) in Fayetteville (ABN).


“"1 if by Land, 2 if by Sea, But 3 if by Air!"...d(^_^)b”

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