National Museum of the United States Air Force

1100 Spaatz Street
Dayton, OH 45433

937-255-3286   |
Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day

United States Air Force History

This history of military aviation and the nation’s developing space program are showcased throughout the National Museum of the United States Air Force facilities. The large hangars contain massive exhibits showcasing aircraft invented within the last century, and visitors can immerse themselves in interactive and educational experiences.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Its existence can be attributed to Dayton natives, Orville and Wilbur Wright and the success they found at Huffman Prairie in the early 1900s. The Wrights secured a patent for their practical airplane design in 1906. After initial skepticism from the US Army, the Army Signal Corps accepted the brothers’ bid to deliver one airplane based on their Wright Flyer design for $25,000 in 1908, thus revolutionizing travel, and warfare. Following the entrance of the US in WWI, the military designated a special focus on aviation development at McCook Field in Dayton. An aircraft hangar at McCook Field became the museum’s first home in 1923. The Army Air Corps continued to use McCook Field for experimental research for most of the 1920s, eventually outgrowing the area. Thanks to contributions made by the area citizens, land for the Wright Field research facility was purchased and named after Orville and Wilbur Wright. Over the last century the museum has grown alongside developments made in modern aviation, and today boasts a massive collection that includes military and presidential aircraft and a space shuttle exhibit.

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Notes for Travelers

Visitors to the National Museum of the United States Air Force – the world’s largest aviation museum – can travel through multiple exhibits showcasing military aircraft development throughout the history of war in the twentieth and twenty-first century. The museum’s other notable galleries include a historic presidential aircraft collection and a representative model of a NASA space shuttle. Beyond the galleries, the museum offers film and lecture series in its theatre, and a virtual flight experience using interactive flight simulators. In addition, travelers can visit Memorial Park, located on the museum’s grounds and dedicated to Air Force servicemen and servicewomen. Before exploring on your own be sure to check out the museum's website, which offers podcasts and audio and virtual tours.

Additional Resources

U.S. Air Force: A Complete History, Lt. Col. Dik Alan Daso.