Dawn Patrol

If you’re an aviation aficionado or a history devotee and are near Dayton, Ohio, here’s what you need to do today: get yourself to the National Museum of the US Air Force for the World War I event Dawn Patrol.

They have replica World War I era planes and radio controlled aircraft in the air and on display. There are some very old cars, vendors and reenactors who are eager to chat.

My dad and I went yesterday. Honestly, the weather was gusty and cool, making it hard to enjoy but there was still some great stuff to see.

First off, the planes!

The flying got started a little late because most of these planes are too light to handle well in these windy conditions. Here’s another.

The RC Aircraft always impresses me. These planes are built with an incredible degree of detail and often sound realistic from the air.

There was a small collection of period cars too. This 1908 Buick is pretty special. That’s the owner checking out the motor.

I always get a kick out of reenactors who are willing to share stories and demonstrate the things they find interesting.

Here’s one more picture for good measure.

This last plane is a full scale Fokker that my pal Dewey has been flying for the owner who is an aviation enthusiast but not a pilot. It’s a pretty special plane to see in person so be sure to look for it if you go today.

Want to go? Dawn Patrol info can be found here. It ends at five so be sure to hurry up and get there! While you’re there, stop by the museum for a look around!

The Airplane Restaurant

Colorado Springs is home to one of the most unique restaurants I have ever eaten in. It’s called The Airplane Restaurant because part of the dining space is in an actual airplane.

It’s a 1953 Boeing KC-97 tanker that originally refueled planes across the world. In 2002 it was reconfigured to provide dining space for about 42 people. Over 200 more people can sit in an attached regular dining room which is filled with interesting artifacts and pictures from aviation history.

My veggie burger and fries were excellent but my friend’s stuffed mushrooms and salad were nothing to write home about. So I can’t really vouch for the food.

However, if you’re an aviation fan, the atmosphere is fantastic. we had to wait a few minutes to sit inside the airplane and the hostess encouraged us to look around the restaurant until she announced our departure – to Antarctica!

You can see the fueling equipment and step into the cockpit while you wait for your food. The tables are covered in maps and the servers are dressed as captains. It’s great!

Want to learn more? Click here to visit their website. It’s about five minutes from the National World War II Aviation Museum which we will talk about another day.

Champaign Aviation Museum

The promise of sunflowers took me to Urbana, Ohio this summer but the promise of airplanes enticed me to stay for a few more hours.

You see, Urbana is home to Champaign Aviation Museum. But this isn’t an ordinary museum. That’s because, in addition to planes and historic items on display, there’s a restoration effort underway on a B-17 Flying Fortress. The Champaign Lady is a sight to behold as she is currently in pieces and gives visitors an intimate look at the construction of this impressive plane.

They also have a Civil Air Patrol plane that sank a German sub off America’s East coast during World War II and an exhibit about the Women’s Air Service Pilots or the WASPs.

You know my favorite part was the WASP exhibit! These life size cut outs are pretty incredible. Each lady is holding a portrait of herself when she was a WASP as well as a story about herself. Sadly, all of these ladies are gone now.

I was fortunate to have a personal tour with Terri Whitlach, a retired Air Force pilot. The actual Voodoo that he flew in Vietnam is in the National Air Force Museum in Dayton.

He provided great insight into the museum, the stories behind the planes and the people who volunteer there. He made what would have been a nice museum tour an absolutely spectacular experience and I’m grateful he was there that day.

Hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. admission is by donation. Get more information at their website. If you go, be sure to talk to whoever is volunteering. You will have a much more enriching experience.

Road Trip: National Air Force Museum

Our governor has been encouraging Ohioans to live well and safely in the age of Covid. We cannot all stay home forever but, with no vaccine in sight and cases spiking in some communities, it is difficult to know how to do this

My July travel plans were scrapped (I promise to stop whining about this) but I did take off a couple days to do some socially distanced wandering. One day, I drove some backroads a couple of hours from here. Another day I spent with my dad visiting the National Air Force Museum in Dayton.

Like everything else, it had been closed since March and just recently reopened with a lot of changes including a new traffic flow, cleaning procedures, sanitizing stations and a mask requirement. It wasn’t at all crowded and the place is cavernous so it is very easy to walk around without coming close to anyone else. I felt safer here than I do at the grocery.

This museum is spectacular. It is several buildings packed full of aircraft as well as some photos and artifacts to help tell their stories. We had visited together a couple of years ago when they dedicated the Memphis Belle and had a such a good time we wanted to return on a less populated day.

There are some specific stories I’ll want to focus on but, for today, here are a handful pictures.

Remember, this museum is free. Water fountains are turned off so be sure to take your own sealed clear plastic water bottle. They also have a cafe where you can grab lunch or snacks.

You can make a day of it or even a couple of days, depending on how much you wish to dwell over the exhibits. We arrived just after opening at 9 a.m. and it was close to 2 when we left.

A lot of the interactive stuff is closed right now but it’s still a great place to take kids who love aviation.

Want to visit? Here’s a link to their website. They also have a really fun presence on Facebook and Instagram.

The Wild Blue Yonder

It makes you want to hop a ride, doesn’t it? Or maybe that’s just me! This was taken at a flying circus down at Bealeton, Virginia last fall. It’s a great show, if you’ve never been and a good value. I wouldn’t mind going back if I’m ever in the area again.

Want to know more? You can read about my experience.

It’s too cold for biplane flying around here right now but it sure is fun. It’s much different than any other flying experience and a little like flying in a time machine.

Want to go? Spring would be a great time for a road trip to Bealeton!

Just a Couple of Cool Planes

All the recent talk about planes reminded me of a fun day at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton.

I’ll make a note to tell you all about it soon. Meanwhile, I’ll let this picture do the talking. I loved both of these planes in a room that represents early aviation. If you’re in the area, this place is a lot of fun and well worth your time.

Learn more here and stay tuned for more!