The Aviation Trail Parachute Museum is celebrating its fifth year of being open to the public as part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park’s Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center at Third and Williams Streets in Dayton, Ohio.
Visitors to the museum can learn what it’s like to eject from an F-16 fighter jet, parachute from the edge of space, feel the physics of air that makes a parachute work, make the first emergency freefall parachute jump and much more.
Interactive displays tell the history of the parachute from Leonardo Da Vinci, to the freefall parachutes developed at McCook Field in Dayton, to parachute-assisted spacecraft landings on Mars.
The exhibits feature the David Gold Parachute Collection, considered one of the world’s most comprehensive private parachute collections. Gold was a parachute researcher who amassed a collection of parachutes, parachute equipment and historical documents. Upon his death in 1985, Gold’s estate donated his collection to Aviation Trail. The books, papers, reports, photographs and films were sent to nearby Wright State University Special Collections and Archives of the university’s Paul Laurence Dunbar Library.
McCook Field, the Army Air Service’s engineering center in the 1920s, developed parachute technology. A McCook Field test pilot, Lt. Harold R. Harris, was the first person to save himself with a freefall parachute.
Admission to the parachute museum is free.