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!

All Ohio Hot Air Balloon Festival

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (364)

It’s been a busy summer and adventures have been especially plentiful these last few weeks. In fact, it’s been so busy that keeping up with storytelling here has been a real challenge.

The trip to Piatt Castles last week included a detour to the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Marysville. I’ve been hesitant to tell you this story because I typically avoid negativity on this blog. There are enough people who seem to think it their duty to point out all the bad in the world – we don’t need me adding to the mix. However, the fact I wasn’t thrilled doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it so the rules are about to be bent a little

Here’s the abbreviated version of this story: the balloons were beautiful, the festival wasn’t so great.

The festival opened in the afternoon the Saturday of my visit. The schedule advertised the arrival of balloons at 4:30 and the balloon launch at 6:30. The website pictured several nice balloons that would be there as well as a lovely image of several balloons in the sky.

When I arrived at 3:30, an enthusiastic crowd had begun to gather but 4:30 came and went with no balloons. In fact, it was close to 7 before we saw the first balloon. I saw people leaving in frustration, disappointed kids in tow because they didn’t want to sit out in the hot August sun for a moment longer. Since it’s held at an airport, there is essentially no shade and few places to get in out of the blistering sun.

This kid seemed to speak for us all.

Marysville Hot Air Ballon Festival 2019 (210)

I now know how to interpret the schedule – the balloons arrive in trucks by 5 p.m. and they are aired up immediately before launching. This means that balloons were in the air for just a few minutes. Also, it was not several at one time as the website depicted but one or two at a time.

So there’s my complaint.

The good news is that they offer some fun activities for kids and, if festival food is your thing, there’s plenty to eat and drink. The U.S. Air Force was there too and had a Thunderbird jet on display.

FB Hotair balloon festival (5)

The balloons were pretty, even if some advertised balloons weren’t there. I’m guessing they went up on one of the other two festival days.

Saturday admission was just $10 and parking was $5. They did a lighted launch after dark – although I didn’t stay for that. I had invested a lot of time already and simply wanted to go home.

You could take a biplane or helicopter ride and they were offering tethered balloon rides – although I never saw that actually happen. I was dying to take a biplane ride but couldn’t justify the expense so close to vacation. The opportunity will come again and will make a great adventure for another day.

FB Hotair balloon festival (6)

On the trip out of town I saw folks with lawn chairs in store parking lots and thought that would be a far better way to enjoy the balloons without the hassle of parking, crowds or expensive bottled water since no outside food or drinks are allowed in.

That would be better for me but maybe not better for you. If you have kids or enjoy the excitement of a crowd this could be a fabulous time for you!!

I don’t want to discourage you from going and supporting the festival but have to be honest that this is not the place for me. If I ever go back, it will either be for the lighted launch or just to enjoy from somewhere outside the festival grounds.

Want to know more? Here’s the link to their event. It will be back next year!! There are other similar festivals in Ohio and I would be interested in visiting another someday.