WRIGHT-PATERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio—Visitors from around the world can once again walk in the footsteps of presidents, astronauts, test pilots and those brought out of captivity: the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force opened its fourth building on Wednesday, June 8.
Visitors streamed through the new $40.8 million, 224,000 square foot fourth building following a ribbon-cutting at (;15 a.m. Privately financed by the Air Force Museum Foundation, the huge building houses four galleries—Presidential, Research and Development, Space and Global Reach, along with three science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Learning Nodes.
During the official Grand Opening Ceremony on June 7, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said the stories told in these four galleries feature fascinating and important aspects of the Air Force mission, according to a museum news release.
“This new building is full of compelling stories of men and women who for many decades have served and defended this nation,” said James. “These people, their stories and the weapon systems they designed, developed, flew, maintained and supported are worthy of recognition and will be highlighted in this magnificent new building to millions of visitors for generations to come.”
Among the stories found in the air museum’s fourth building will be the VC-137C Air Force One (SAM 26000), which was used by eight presidents – Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton; the only remaining XB-70 Valkyrie; the C-141C Hanoi Taxi, which airlifted the first American prisoners of war out of North Vietnam in February 1973; the Space Shuttle Exhibit featuring NASA’s first Crew Compartment Trainer; and a massive Titan IVB space launch vehicle that weighs 96 tons.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh unveiled the new official names for each of the four galleries, honoring individuals in the military and industry who made essential contributions to the Air Force mission. They are the Maj. Gen. Albert Boyd and Maj. Gen. Fred Ascani Research and Development Gallery, the Allan and Malcolm Lockheed and Glenn Martin Space Gallery, the William E. Boeing Presidential Gallery and the Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner Global Reach Gallery.
Although the building is now open during regular museum hours, special weekend activities and demonstrations are scheduled for the Grand Opening Weekend, June 11-12.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military air museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year about one million visitors from around the world come to the museum. Visit nationalmuseum.af.mil for more information.