This post briefly covers our 5-day trip with a few highlights we particularly enjoyed as well as planning materials for future sorties. We most certainly hope this helps aid in your adventures to similarly explore the area as we did!
This month, the Warbird Coffee Company USA Squadron embarked on a 1300-mile road trip from Central Wisconsin, landing in Dayton, Ohio, home of the Wright Brothers and the focal point of The National Aviation Heritage Area. It was our first trip to the region, and it certainly won’t be our last!
The Dayton Aviation Trail is a self-guided tour of selected, aviation-related sites open to the public. The Trail was established in 1981 by Aviation Trail, Inc., an all-volunteer, not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to preserve and promote the Dayton's area's unique aviation heritage, starting with the invention of the airplane by Wilbur and Orville Wright. Click the link to access the map containing all the Aviation Trail has to offer! ATI Trail Site map 2021_cv.cdr (aviationtrailinc.org)
We chose to spend our first two days at The National Museum of the United States Air Force, or as we like to call it “Heaven” https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil . Truly an amazing experience not only due to the beautiful aircraft and stories about those who flew them but amazing due to the great friends we made! Wonderful people and we’re honored by their service and dedication. The piece d ’resistance, of course, had to be the “Belle”. Seeing the Memphis Belle for the first time is a sight to behold and we will remember her forever.
We recommend at least two days at the Museum as there is so much to see within all the hangars, over 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles and so much ground to physically cover, 19 acres in total. Free admission and free parking are a bonus. Lucky for us, our second day there was National Aviation Day celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the USAF. The traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall was also on site, and we were treated to a rare 2-ship B-52 flyover honoring the fallen from the Vietnam war. As Warbird Belle would say “Goosebumps” and we’ll leave it at that.
While inside the Museum, make sure not to miss The National Aviation Hall of Fame https://nationalaviation.org The stories behind the stories are what we enjoyed most. The exhibits in the Learning and Research Center tell the story of the history of American aviation with the emphasis on the aviation pioneers who made major contributions to its development. To name a few, “Pappy” Boyington, Sir Frank Whittle, Richard Bong, George Brown, Laurence Craigie and “Jimmy” Dolittle.
We ended the day in the Historic Wright-Dunbar neighborhood, streets lined with turn-of-the-century Victorian structures built in the early 1900s along the Miami River for a great evening meal with outstanding hosts.
Our next stop along the Aviation Trail was the historic Waco Field in Troy, about 30 minutes north of Dayton, home of the Waco Air Museum https://www.wacoairmuseum.org and one our personal favorites, the Waco CG-4A Glider. If you are WWII history buff, and face it if you’re reading this, you are, this museum is for you! The stories of the CG-4A heroes are stories we’ll never forget!
The WACO Aircraft Company was the largest manufacturer of civil aircraft in the country in the late 1920's and early 30's and this museum is dedicated to the plant and the employees that made it great. Today the museum has a busy events calendar with plenty on to see and do.
Headed back north on our way back to Wisconsin, saying goodbye to Ohio, we deviated off the Aviation Trail to Portage (Kalamazoo), Michigan, spending the afternoon at Air Zoo Aerospace & Science Experience. https://www.airzoo.org
The Air Zoo is a world-class, Smithsonian-affiliated aerospace and science museum with over 100 air and space artefacts and inspiring interactive exhibits. Great aircraft, fun for kids and they even have a CG-4A there! (Can’t get enough Gliders!)
All in all, a great experience and wonderful way to spend a long weekend and as always, a prominent reminder of why we do what we do at The Warbird Coffee Company - preserving their legacy!