Thursday, January 21, 2010

Aim High with the Air Force

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was bitterly cold and gray. Our truck needed a tune up and had to go into the terminal outside of Dayton Ohio. We had time to kill and luckily the husband of my friend, Diana of the Lake of Shining Water, had suggested we explore the National Museum of the US Airforce. It was wonderful!

This free museum was not only fascinating, but it was also beautifully arranged! Like a well placed flower in a vase, each plane has been placed close enough to one another to strike one with a sense of awe and yet each plane stands out individually as though it were a piece mechanical art.

Each gleaming plane caused me to marvel at its beauty and imagine the horror that must have stopped the hearts of those who fled from the airstrikes many of these plane took part in.

It was easy to imagine the GIs who cared for and flew these planes to protect their country, trusting in the plane to bring them home safely.
We walked through one of the planes and I had to pause to smell it. Paul thought I was crazy, but tears were in my eyes as my mind recognized the smell. The smell of aged leather immediately reminded me of my Grandfather (my Dad's father). I never realized that the my Grandpa smelled like old WWII airplane, but I think he would have liked to know that my mind connected that smell with my memories.
My Grandpa Brindle was a wonderful man who taught me to jump rope as a little girl. He had been a soldier in World War II and had owned his own plane. After he passed away I kept his very large flannel jacket to wear around the house, because that soft fabric smelled like that special man. His scent has long faded from the jacket, but standing in that plane I felt the closeness of my Grandpa.

The museum holds over 450 airplane and numerous artifacts from early air ballons to modern space exploration. We only had time to make it through the first three of four massive air hangers. Their galleries include Early Years, Air Power, Modern Flight, Cold War, Missile & Space, Presidential, and Research and Development. They also have multiple smaller exhibits.
There is a lovely picnic area outside with monuments. An airstrip with a handful of planes outside. They even have an Imax theater (not free), a cafe and a surprisingly large giftshop with truly interesting books, dvds, music, artwork and models.
What little boy (or big boy!) wouldn't love to check out a stealth plane like this??? :D
If ever in Dayton, I HIGHLY recommend a visit! Of all the museums and sights we've seen while travelling these past two years, this was one of my favorites!

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