The National Museum of the United States Air Force is a world-class museum with more than 360 aircraft and aerospace vehicles. It is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base not far from where the Wright Brothers tested their airplanes. Admission is free. The museum exhibits are organized chronologically, starting with, not surprisingly, the Wright Brothers.
You’ll see a unique view of American history through the lens of aviation development. The first of four buildings covers early aviation through World War II. Aircraft from the Korean and Vietnam Wars are found in the second building. The third building covers the Cold War era, after which is the Missile Gallery. The fourth building has presidential aircraft, modern and experimental aircraft, and space exhibits.
Most of the aircraft are for viewing only, but there are several (mostly in Buildings 2 and 4) that visitors can walk through. Don’t miss the airplane that carried the body of President John F. Kennedy after his assassination. Walk through the airplane and in the spot where Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the next president (Building 4).
Take one of the free guided tours that are offered daily or tour the museum at your own pace. Audio tours and podcasts are offered by the museum. Don’t hesitate to ask questions of the museum volunteers. Many of them are retired Air Force personnel who are happy to share their wealth of knowledge.
Be sure to try out some of the interactive displays, cockpit sit-ins, simulators and virtual adventures that are scattered throughout the museum. (Some have a fee.) When you get tired of walking, watch a movie in the 3D theater that has an 80-foot screen (for a fee). Shop in the museum store which offers souvenirs and books about aviation. Two cafés offer lunch and snacks, making it easy to spend the entire day (or multiple days) here.