WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — As the facility expansion at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force opens this week, attendees will be able to see more of the nation’s most famous and historic aircraft without a ticket.
“…We are ecstatic about this new building and all the opportunities it presents,” museum director, retired Lt. General John Hudson said during an advance press event for the building Tuesday. “What a great thing this is.”
The new $40.8 million, 224,000-square-foot facility, which was paid for by the Air Force Museum Foundation, houses dozens of aircraft and pieces of Air Force technology within four exhibits: the Research and Development Gallery; the Space Gallery; the Global Reach Gallery and the Presidential Gallery, which was previously located in a time-limited restricted area that could only be accessed with a ticket.
“One of the big advantages of this new building here is everybody that comes here can see all this,” Hudson said, overlooking the new building’s array of exhibits. “If [visitors] want to come back here and spend a half a day or a day, they certainly can.”
Visitors will be able to walk around, over, under and through dozens of craft, including the Boeing VC-137C SAM 26000, which carried President John F. Kennedy’s body to Washington, D.C., after his assassination; the “Sacred Cow,” the first aircraft purpose-built to fly the United States president; the massive Titan IVB rocket, the Air Force’s largest single-use space launch rocket; several experimental planes and engines; the only remaining XB-70 Valkyrie in existence and the Lockheed C-141C “Hanoi Taxi,” the Air Force’s first major jet aircraft designed to meet military standards as a troop and cargo carrier.
Other pieces in the new building include the Apollo 15 command module “Endeavour” and a space shuttle training unit. Also included in the new building are three STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning nodes/educational classrooms.
Construction on the building began in July 2014 and was completed in the fall of 2015.