WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE —The National Museum of the United States Air Force will honor POW/MIA Day and the 70th Birthday of the U.S. Air Force in September by offering visitors two special opportunities to interact with Air Force veterans as part of its “Plane Talks” program.
Col. (Ret) James Blackman will be available to talk to visitors in the museum’s Global Reach Gallery from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15 in recognition of POW/MIA Day. Blackman, a former C-141 Starlifter pilot, served in the U.S. Air Force for 37 years, with 31 years in operational C-141 flying units. He participated in every mission area of the C-141 to include air land operations, inflight refueling, combat airdrop and aeromedical evacuation.
Visitors are invited to meet Blackman and learn more about his service as well as the museum’s C-141C Hanoi Taxi which airlifted the first American prisoners of war to freedom from Hanoi, North Vietnam in 1973. Blackman, who will be stationed by the aircraft for his talk, served as the mission commander for the final flight of the Hanoi Taxi when it was delivered to the museum in 2006.
As part of U.S. Air Force’s 70th Birthday celebration, the museum will offer a “Plane Talks” program 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 18 featuring 19 veterans stationed at aircraft throughout the museum.
Among the veterans scheduled to be on-hand are a retired crew chief and an engineer, as well as navigators and pilots who have flown on aircraft such as the B-25, C-47, C-123, C-124, C-130, C-141, F-89, F-101, F-105, HH-43, KC-97, KC-135, RC-121 and T-39. In addition, a former museum curator will be available to discuss the B-17G Flying Fortress exhibit. Collectively the service of these veterans spans over six decades and covers over 42 different aircraft including the U-2 and SR-71.
Visitors are encouraged to ask questions and interact with these aviation experts, who will tell personal stories and offer first-hand knowledge about the aircraft and exhibits.
Additional programs will be offered in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Learning Nodes in the fourth building for those interested in learning more about Air Force history.
Visitors may also walk through the first aircraft purpose-built to fly the president of the United States and considered the “birthplace” of the U.S. Air Force. It was on this aircraft, the C-54 Sacred Cow, that President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 establishing the U.S. Air Force as an independent service.
With the experience of fighting in two world wars during the first half of the twentieth century, United States military aviators advocated for the creation of a separate air force. On Sept. 18, 1947, their efforts came to fruition when the U.S. Air Force was established as a separate service under the Department of Defense, equal to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy.