Monday, July 27, 2015

Off We Go, Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Matthew and I spent last Thursday and Friday in Dayton, visiting Uncle David and Aunt Shylah, and visiting the National Museum of the USAF at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. David works on the base as a chemist, and I have wanted to take Matthew to the museum since David and Shylah moved to Dayton. We finally found a couple of free days, and it definitely takes a couple of days to see everything. So. Many. Planes!

We got to the museum just before lunch, looked around at the exhibit from the early Wright brothers years of aviation, then took a little break to meet David and Shylah for lunch at the museum cafe.
After lunch, we had a little more time to look around before our tour of the presidential planes and research and development exhibit. Matthew stopped to pose in front of the 'Fat Man' atomic bomb from the World War II section of the museum.
The presidential planes are in a hangar apart from the museum hangars, on the active part of the base. To tour the hangar, we had to board a shuttle bus and go out one gate and in another. Since David has base clearance, he was able to drive himself over and meet us there to tour the exhibit.

Matthew on the steps of the SAM 2600, first used by President Kennedy, and last used by President Clinton. A lot of history on that plane!
The plane used by President Truman was called the Independence, after his hometown in Missouri.
David and Matthew thought this looked like some sort of flying saucer.
David joined us back at the main museum for the rest of the afternoon, and they posed in front of the Apollo 15 command module. Matthew asked some questions about the Apollo missions, which prompted us to decide that we would spend the evening watching the movie Apollo 13.

Of course, we had to admire Cayden's room first, which is almost all ready for him. He has lots of books...

and his crib is all ready with his name above. So cute!

We did some shopping, had dinner at Longhorn, dessert at Graeter's, and settled in to watch the movie together. Matthew even stayed awake long enough to see the Apollo 13 crew return safely to earth. He then settled down to sleep on the couch, and this is how I found him the next morning.
Matthew enjoyed his first trip to Bob Evans, with a big ol' plate of chocolate chip pancakes. Yum!
We started our second morning looking at the planes parked outside the museum. This big (huge!) Globemaster aircraft is a transport plane used during the 80s and 90s.
This particular plane also appeared in a couple of the Transformers movies. It can hold a tank!
This Boeing EC-135, introduced in 1968, was known as the 'Droop Snoot', 'Snoopy Nose', or, for those of you old enough to remember him, the 'Jimmy Durante' of the Air Force.
The museum is currently housed in three large hangars, with a fourth one in the process of being built. You can see it to the far left in the photo. Over the winter, the planes from the Presidential and Research and Development hangars will be moved to their new home in the fourth building. That will be an interesting process to watch!
Inside, we started in the Cold War area, where Matthew checked out some of the missiles on display.

From the second floor balcony, we could see across the Cold War exhibit, including the Stealth Bomber and a model of the Space Shuttle which was used for training.
Smile, Matthew!
We met a man who worked at the museum, who was spending his day off there with his two little grandsons. He told us to be sure to check out the Aviation Hall of Fame area, where there were interactive and educational activities to see. Matthew enjoyed trying to fly a plane. I think he only crashed a couple of times. :)
He posed near a picture of Neil Armstrong, who Matthew had the opportunity to meet a few years ago.
There is even a space suit with steps in the back so you can see how you would look if you were all ready to make a flight into space.
Back in the World War II area, Matthew posed in front of a 'Spitfire.'
And another one.
This plane, nicknamed 'Bockscar' is called, 'The Aircraft that Ended WW II.' Bockscar is the plane that dropped the atomic bomb, nicknamed 'Fat Man' on the city of Nagasaki.
Bockscar doesn't get as much recognition as her sister ship, 'The Enola Gay', the plane that dropped the 'Little Boy' bomb on Hiroshima three days earlier, and is sometimes called 'the forgotten plane.' Matthew is reading about the 'Little Boy' bomb in the photo below.
After two days of looking at planes and reading (reading, reading, reading) about planes, we were ready to make a stop at the gift shop and head for home. So many planes, so much history, and a great memory for Granny and Matthew. (And his memory is undoubtedly better than mine, so if you have any questions about planes of the Air Force, just ask Matthew.) Ha!


Terri D said...

Wonderful photos!! My dad worked at Wright Pat back when I was a baby! My grandmother lives in Xenia, which is not far from Dayton. I am very familiar with that part of Ohio, but have never toured the AFB. Perhaps our next visit....

Cathy said...

I love Wright Pat. I remember going on Field Trips from school when I was a little girl. My girls did too, plus we used to take them also. It's been several years now since we've been there.

It sounds like you guys had a really awesome time. Thanks for sharing your photos.