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August 10, 2017

National Museum of the USAF

This is the official National Museum of the United States Air Force, and National Aviation Hall of Fame.   It is open daily 9 to 5 with FREE admission and parking, plus FREE WiFi!  It’s been a few years since we last stopped here.  And we are here to see one specific item, just one.  But first an overview of what makes this an interesting stop.

The museum is divided into galleries that cover broad historic trends in military aviation. These are further broken down into exhibits that detail specific historical periods and display aircraft in historical context.

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The early flight includes entries from the Wright brothers, and many others as the world was discovering flight.
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The first aircraft engine was hand built by Charlie Taylor, a machinist in the Wright Cycle Company.  After none of the automobile engine manufacturing companies would build an engine to the required power/weight requirements Charlie, a cigar smoking, foul mouthed, self taught machinist took on the task.   His little 9 horsepower engine was used to ‘conquer the sky’.
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The wind tunnel replica allows you to see how the various airfoil designs were set to compete against each other, with careful charts and drawings kept for each.
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The world’s first drone was the ‘Kettering Bug’ an aerial torpedo that launched from tracks, was developed by DELCO.  There was no steering control, it had to be pointed at the target.  After a selected amount of time the engine could be shut off and the ‘bug’ shed its wings, becoming an 'aerial torpedo’ into its target.
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The museum considers this POW suit as one of its rarest exhibits.  We’re here to see something else, even more rare.
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We carry a scooter on the rear of the RV to use as a ‘toad’.   This little Cushman was used as a toad by the USAF, instead of unloading from the carrier on their RV, they dropped it out of their airplane – yes it had its own parachute.
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Bob Hope has his own little exhibit.  The recordings of his performances are played throughout the day, I never heard the same joke twice.  The golf vest tho was a real kick with pockets for ‘Golf Tips, Score Cards, a Score Card Adjuster, Pencil Sharpener, Coffee Dispenser, Cigars, Bug Repellent, Telephone, Toilet Paper’, etc.
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On to the airplanes … The C-124 is probably the biggest plane in the hangers – it is huge!
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How about this fore-runner of the Concorde?
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Since we were here last another hanger has been added to house the Presidential collection, including various Air Force One entries and this C-141 the original Hanoi Taxi was first to assist in the evacuation from Vietnam.  On our last visit only the Boeing 707 (SAM 26000) was here as an outside exhibit.
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A modified Boeing 707 was in service as Air Force One between the Kennedy and Clinton administrations.
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Lyndon Johnson preferred the Lockheed JetStar.
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Henry Truman flew in a modified DC-6.
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There is also a space shuttle (trainer) on display and many, many, many other aircraft on display.  There is also a memorial park adjacent to the museum.  It would take days to see it all.

But again I’m here to see only one thing.  I asked at the information desk where to find it and the response “I have never heard of it.  Why would we have that?”  I then asked to see the Roswell space craft and was told “You should have been here yesterday, it’s on base and only open for viewing occasionally, but they never announce when.”  Ha they know about alien space craft but not the one and only known to exit … drum roll …

A women’s Van Cleve bicycle.  The Wright brothers made only six women’s bicycles and this is the only one known to survive.  The Van Cleve was the first bike to have a pedal with a reverse thread, a single piece crank and a self lubricating hub. 

This would be more appreciated at the Carillon, or at the NPS restoration on West 3rd. – IMHO.
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Maybe there are some great ‘barn finds’ yet to be had.

To qualify as the ‘first heavier than air powered flight’ the aircraft had to manned and travel more than 300’.  Wilber’s flight was just shy at 284’, but Orivlle flew next making nearly 900’ at Kitty Hawk.
This blogs Ohio fun fact:  First in powered flight – Orville Wright; First man in space – John Glenn; First man on the moon – Neal Armstrong.

In all, Ohio has produced 24 astronauts and has a chance of sending the first couple to Mars:
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Don’t we look the part in our space suits?

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