Happy birthday to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force! The world’s oldest and largest military aviation museum - and one of the most-visited free attractions in the state of Ohio - celebrates its 100th Anniversary on May 16, 2023!
"Celebrating 100 years is a significant milestone in the history of any museum," said National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Historian Doug Lantry. "The growth we have experienced over the last century is directly attributed to the Air Force's wise commitment to preserving its heritage and the tremendous support we receive from our local, national and international communities. It's going to be an exciting year as we celebrate in style with events and exhibits that will appeal to the whole family."
Above Image: The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's Patterson Field location in 1958 (Courtesy National Museum of the U.S. Air Force)
Since 1923, the museum has grown from a small Army Air Corps engineering study collection to the world's largest military aviation museum and is a world-renowned center for air and space power technology and culture preservation. The museum is home to countless one-of-a-kind objects. Its once-small engine collection now includes more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles, thousands of artifacts, and spans 19 indoor acres with additional outdoor Air and Memorial Parks that continue to grow every year. The museum’s vast collection highlights the evolution of flight, and the history and establishment of the U.S. Air Force as an independent service.
Historical Photo Gallery
The museum's original McCook Field location, circa 1923
An early view of the museum, circa 1930s
Museum building circa 1930-40s
Museum in the 1950s
The museum in the 1960s
Moving the XB-70 to the new building in 1970
Moving the B-36 into the new building in 1970
Museum building circa early 1970s
Museum building circa late 1970s
Centennial Events and Exhibitions at the Museum
The museum will commemorate this major milestone anniversary with events and exhibits throughout 2023 and into 2024. Below are details about currently scheduled events and exhibits. Check back here and on the museum's website for updates!
- Plane Talks: The museum with hold a special Plane Talks event in honor of Armed Forces Day on Saturday, May 20, 10:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. It will include more than a dozen aircraft subject matter experts, including veterans, active duty, former pilots, crew members, engineers, navigators, and more who will speak about aircraft throughout the museum including the B-1B Lancer, B-2 Spirit, F-22 Raptor, J-3 Cub, B-58 Hustler, Minuteman and Peacekeeper Missiles, B-25 Mitchell and others. Other upcoming Plane Talks take place on September 16 and November 11.
- Free Yoga Classes with Fitness Under the Wings: The popular "Fitness Under the Wings" series returns for the summer, with free yoga sessions on May 22, June 26, July 31 and August 28. Yoga classes will be presented by Indigo Yoga and are suitable for all skill levels. All sessions take place 4-5 p.m. in the museum's 2nd building, and advance registration is required.
- Planes, Trains and Automobiles Model Event: On August 12, a diverse array of unique model aircraft, locomotives, and motor vehicles of all kinds will be featured against the backdrop of the museum’s impressive aircraft displays. Watch the museum's website and social media for more details.
- Troops and Treats: Ghosts and goblins of all ages are encouraged to dress in their favorite Halloween costume and come to the museum for a day of trick-or-treating, games and fun on Saturday, October 28.
- 100 Years of Heritage: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, 1923-2023: The museum has aged well over the last 100 years! This new centennial exhibit opens May 21 in the Cold War Art Gallery in building 3. It will display the history of the museum, which is older than the Air Force itself! Historical photographs, maps, rare artifacts and memorabilia represent changes the museum experienced through the last 100 years. The exhibit also features the staff, volunteers, and the Air Force Museum Foundation’s contributions to the museum’s development, maintenance and growth. Future expansion plans are also included in the exhibit, which will remain in place until May 2024.
- Search and Rescue Exhibit: That Others May Live, the museum's newest permanent exhibit, tells the story of combat search and rescue operations during the wars in Southeast Asia. Opening to the public on June 3, it will be located in the museum's Southeast Asia Gallery.
- Discover Steampunk: This special exhibit in the museum's 4th Building exhibit space arrives September 24 and will be open through December 10. How did thinkers of the late 1800s, including writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, envision the future? Find out in this fantastical hands-on exhibit that will engage visitors of all ages.
- Enlisted Force Exhibit: This new exhibit highlights the highly skilled, trained, and talented enlisted force that has been the backbone of daily operations of the U.S. Department of the Air Force.
Additional events will be added throughout the year (events subject to change), and details will be available on the museum’s website. Be sure to also check out centennial celebrations in the Air Force Museum Theatre and Museum Store!