Saturday, May 08, 2010

US Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson

I had to go to Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio this last week for a conference. On Thursday I took a break of briefings and went to the National Museum of the Air Force on the edge of Wright-Pat. Now I know I love this stuff so most of this is boring to most folks but I went with one of our civilians and we spent 6 hours walking around the 3 hangers and didn't get to see enough. We read some of the displays and basically just sped through the exhibits. We didn't get to the static displays outside with the "Hanoi Taxi" or over to the Presidential Aircraft display on the base. We did have a great time and I would recommend this museum to anyone who loves seeing airplanes even half as much as I do.

This is a uniform from a Buchenwald Concentration Camp. As you can read from the up close on the sign.

I have been stationed with the "Flying Tigers" two times in my career. Once at Pope AFB with the 23rd Fighter Wing. The 23rd is the only unit still allowed to have Tiger Teeth Painted on their Aircraft and they fly the VERY impressive A-10. I also got to support them during my deployment last year so that was a bonus. I was also stationed at 14th Air Force at Vandenberg which is the direct descendant of the 14th Air Force and Gen Chennault's 14th Air Force that fought the Japanese from China.

This is the side of an AC-130 Gun Ship. They are used for close air support for ground forces. They have chain guns out the left side and a 105mm cannon also out the left side. The fire and fury they can place on the ground is amazing. This aircraft was used during Operation DESERT STORM (Iraq War I) to push "Daisy Cutters" out the back and cause large effects on the ground.

This is the nose of an F-4 Phantom (grunt, grunt, grunt). These were used in Operation DESERT STORM to hunt down Scuds before they were retired and turned into drones after the war. This Aircraft has the most flight hours of ANY F-4, nearly 7400 hours in the air. It flew in Vietnam and everything else through it's retirement after Iraq. Truly a great workhorse who doesn't deserve to go out as a drone for F-15, F-16, F-22 pilots as target practice.

This is the nose art from the B-29 "BOCKSCAR" that dropped the bomb on Nagasaki. Besides it's amazing historical significance I like this aircraft and its sister aircraft because the gym that I work out in every day is a converted aircraft hanger that both of these aircraft were built in. Truly an amazing thing to run around the track and thing back on the history this building has seen!

Now this is something that I got a little chocked up about. We all remember the Doolittle Raid on Japan. LtCol Jimmy Doolittle and his team took 16 B-25s off of the USS HORNET and bombed points in Japan. These hero's then crashed their aircraft in Japan and China and most made it home. LtCol Doolittle was given the Congressional Medal of Honor and promoted to General skipping over Colonel. The cups you see here were presented to the Doolittle Raiders at one of their annual gatherings on Gen Doolittle's Birthday events. The silver cups are engraved with each Raiders name twice. When the cup is placed up as very few are it means the Raider was still alive at the last gathering. The Raiders hold a private toast and for all 80 members and turn over those who have passed away. Those cups are turned upside down were the name has already been engraved to still read right side up. The bottle of 1896 Cognac (from the year Gen Doolittle was Born) will be toasted by the last two remaining Raiders in private when that day comes. There are currently only 7 cups still facing up!

We had an awards dinner Thursday night for ACC and they held it in the middle hanger under the wing of a B-52 and that was an amazing thing! I had been told by a few people before going to Dayton that I "HAD" to see the museum. After going I would agree that it is the best Air Museum I have been to. In case you are curious the Royal Air Museum in Duxford, England is number 2. If you ever get a chance and want to take a free (YES FREE) tour of US Air History from the Wright Brothers to present day this is an amazing place and can easily be a multi-day event!

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