The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's Patterson Field location in 1958
(Image courtesy National Museum of the U.S. Air Force)

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 in 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."

The museum will commemorate this major milestone anniversary with events and exhibits that celebrate its humble beginnings as a small engine study lab at McCook field, through its growth to more than 19 indoor acres, housing more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles, and thousands of artifacts. 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.

Centennial Events and Exhibitions at the Museum

Survival: The Exhibition

In February, Survival: The Exhibition opens on February 18, and the popular Micro Drone Races return February 24-26. Below are details about those and other scheduled events and exhibits planned for the museum's centennial.


  • Micro Drone Races, February 24-26: Cheer on your favorite fast-flying micro machine as pilots maneuver their drones over, under, around and through the museum’s aircraft displays to compete during the Fourth Annual Micro Drone Races.
  • Kite Week, March: The public will be invited to bring their kites out to the front lawn of the museum during one week in March. Bring the entire family and pack a picnic lunch to make a day of this unique opportunity.
  • Easter Egg Hunt, April 8: Bring the family to hunt for Easter eggs and take part in other family-friendly activities throughout the museum.
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles model event: 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 for this event in late summer.
  • Troops and Treats, October 28: Ghosts and goblins of all ages are encouraged to dress in their favorite costume and come to the museum for a day of trick-or-treating, games, and fun.  


  • Two Special Exhibits come to the museum's 4th Building exhibit space: Survival: The Exhibition debuts Feb. 18-May 7, and Discover Steampunk arrives September 24-December 10. These interactive exhibits 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.
  • Centennial Exhibit opens May 20: The museum has aged well over the last 100 years, and this new exhibit, located in the Cold War Gallery, will give visitors a glimpse into its history and the people that make it all possible.
  • Search and Rescue (SAR): This new exhibit highlighting combat search and rescue missions will be located in the Southeast Asia Gallery later in 2023.

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!

Bookmark our Calendar of Events and download our Visit Dayton app from Google Play or the Apple Store to stay connected with the best events and things to do in Dayton!

Updated Google   Updated Apple