Last night we arrived at the Troutstream headquarters for a few nights of courtesy parking. We are happy to be reunited with our new friends. It’s been two weeks since we met them at Ludington State Park in Michigan and as you can tell, the leaves here have been busy changing color and falling.
Doug, Melizza and their family live in a beautiful suburban neighborhood south of Dayton on about a half acre lot. Even though they have plenty of space for their Airstream, they store it at a lot away from home as the neighborhood does not allow it here.
And here comes the Mali Mish. A band of vagabonds undeterred by township ordinances, determined to turn the Troutstream compound into a temporary trailer park.
Ava and Mila are happy to rendezvous back up with their new friends they met back in Ludington and they spent no time reacquainting themselves with each other. Today, we are headed to the National Air Force Museum. One of the best Space and Air Museums in the world.
After some great authentic Vietnamese food (you know it’s authentic when you order your entree by a number), we headed over to the Air Force base. Dayton is very proud of its aviation heritage and it shows. After all, the Wright brothers are from here even though Kitty Hawk, North Carolina gets all of the first in flight credit.
The best part of this great museum is that it is absolutely free. There are 3 hangars full of aircraft and memorabilia associated with aviation. The Armstrong Museum in comparison, looks like a closet.
The first hangar is chock full of aircrafts from the early years. There are so many planes in this hangar that they are not only on the ground but also hanging from the ceiling.
And of course there is a reproduction of a Wright flyer here. Actually, this is a later version of the Wright flyer made for the United States Military. Notice how it is a two seater and the pilot and copilot are able sit straight up versus having a single pilot in the prone position.
To do this museum justice in just one blog post, it would take me forever and most of you would not stick around to see the end. The photos I am sharing here are heavily curated as to show some of the more interesting items in my opinion. You really need to visit the museum yourself to see the rest. This photo above is one of the first ever self-guided bombs.
During World War II, many downed pilots in hostile territory fashioned their own American flags out of materials they found. They are amazing to see and you can really feel the patriotism that was held by these heroes who risked their lives for the freedom of others.
Marlene was particularly fond of this biplane. There are no other reasons except she loves the picture of the hawk on the side of the cockpit.
Besides the aircraft on display, there are a few other interesting pieces like his Ford Model-T ambulance. After Ava’s driving lessons at the Henry Ford Museum, she might be able to take this thing for a ride.
There are a couple of personal favorites of mine in this hangar. One of them is this Douglas C-47 Skytrain. This is one of hundreds of planes like it that dropped Army Airborne troopers over Normandy during the Allied invasion.
Another notable plane is this P-51 Mustang. This one here is the D model. Planes like this were used as escort fighter planes along side bombing raids during World War II. Second only to the Hellcat, the Mustang is credited with shooting down the most enemy planes. With a top speed of 437 MPH, it is also one of the fastest planes if its time.
As we moved on to the next hangar with the modern aircrafts, the first ones you notice are the drones hanging from the ceiling. This here is a MQ-9 Reaper, also known as the Predator Drone. The Air Force base in Dayton is home to the drone program. Although lots of information is classified, you can see a real life drone right here at the museum.
Across the room from the drones, I gasped as I caught glimpse of a real-life F-22 Raptor right in front of my eyes. Hanging above it is a one-of-a-kind single-seat plane named ‘Bird of Brey’ Boeing built to demonstrate its stealth technology.
I couldn’t believe I got to see an actual F-22 Raptor here. It is the current flagship fighter jet of our military. The only fighter aircraft more modern than this would be the F-35 that is still in development. Doug has been here many times and this is the first time he has ever seen it here. After speaking with museum docent standing next to the Raptor, he confirmed that this is an authentic F-22 that flew as recently as 10 years ago. It suffered some stress-related structural damage during some of its test flights so it was permanently grounded. Instead of salvaging it for parts, its sensitive and classified parts were removed and the rest of it was just recently placed here on display.
Not only does this museum have American planes on display, there are also a fair amount of foreign planes like this MiG 15. The MiG-15 was a post WWII fighter jet. After going into service in 1949, this plane served in the North Korean Air Force during the Korean War. A North Korean pilot defected and landed this plane in a south Korean air strip to many people’s surprise in 1953. It provided much intelligence for the Cold War efforts. When the U.S. offered to return this aircraft to its rightful owner after considerable test flights, that request was ignored. It has been in this museum since 1957.
This is Ethan, Doug’s middle kid and just like our middle kid Mila, he is the wild one. We thought if there is a plane here that suits him best would be this ‘Dennis the Menace’ fighter jet.
In the last hangar of the museum is the space and aeronautical collection. Here is the command module of the Apollo 15 mission. This spacecraft looks like a movie prop from Return of the Jedi but it is indeed the real deal.
Another surprising item in the collection is this hydrogen atom bomb. For my and everyone’s sake, I hope this one has been disarmed.
This is a replica of the Excelsior III gondola. Project Excelsior program was a test performed by, then Air Force Captain, Joseph Kittinger. It was conducted as tests for high altitude equipment that would be used by pilots in high altitude planes. During this jump, the pressurization in one of his gloves failed and his hand swelled to twice its original size. Having no choice but to continue the jump, Captain Kittinger endured the pain and survived a record breaking jump from nearly 103,000 ft reaching speeds of 9/10 of the speed of sound.
Joseph Kittinger’s record breaking jump held until Oct 14th 2012 when Felix Baumgartner jumped from Red Bull Stratos at an altitude of 128,100 ft and reaching over the sound barrier. The retired Colonel Kittinger at the age of 84 served as the project’s adviser and Felix Baumgartner’s mentor.
One of the main attractions of this museum is the stealth B-2 bomber on display here. It is a massive aircraft but so stealth, it is actually hard to see even when you are standing next to it.
It is hard to explain, this thing is massive, but the dark color and the non-reflective surfaces blend right into the dark ceilings of the hangar.
Amongst its collection of stealth aircraft, a SR-71 Blackbird is also part of their collection. We saw one of the SR-71 predecessors at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park called the A-12. This is the first time that I have actually seen a real Blackbird in person. There is actually a Blackbird park just a couple of hours from where we lived in California. Palmdale is where the Blackbird was developed and tested by the Skunks Works division of Lockheed Martin although I have never been there.
An interesting piece of Air Force history on display here is a suit of armor named Iron Mike. During his service, the various units of the Air Force considered him as ‘fair game’. That meant Iron Mike was frequently abducted from its home of Elmondorf AFB in Alaska where he is the mascot. He has appeared in Air Force bases from Greenland to Vietnam and was eventually retired in 1969 and no longer considered as ‘fair game’.
One of the last stealth planes on display is one of the original stealth planes in aviation history. This is the F-117 Nighthawk. First flew in 1981, it was not acknowledged by the US government publicly of its existence until 1989. It was retired from service in 2008 with the introduction of the F-22 raptor.
We barely got through the museum as they were closing. If it wasn’t for Doug and his family living in the area, I don’t know if we would have chosen Dayton as a destination. But now that we did, I would recommended to anyone interested in aviation history.
over and out,