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Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Student Group Tour magazine will continue to provide ideas for planning educational travel. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.


The National Museum of the United States Air Force is rich with educational opportunities.

The museum, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, preserves and presents the story of the U.S. Air Force.

Students and their teachers can walk through and experience the museum on their own, said Rob Bardua of the public affairs division.

Using the museum’s self-directed informational scavenger hunts is an option for the self-guided tour.

Students can concentrate on areas of interest from the beginning of flight through the world wars, Korea, Southeast Asia and the modern era. They also can see the Air Force’s role in the space program and walk through former Air Force One aircraft from Presidents Franklin Roosevelt through William Clinton. 

Also available is a guided tour. Docents deliver facts and personal stories related to the Air Force in particular and flight in general.

Bardua said students enjoy the atmosphere of learning in three-dimensional exhibits and displays.

“The ‘wow factor’ is recognized consistently as you hear their comments of ‘wow’ or ‘woo’ or some expression of amazement, whether it is the Wright Flyer in the Early Years Gallery, the B-52 in the Southeast Asia Gallery, the SR-71 in the Cold War Gallery, the massive missiles on display or the shuttle exhibit in the space gallery,” Bardua said.

Every group of students seems to want to walk through the Presidential aircraft on display.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force offers several programs that help students better understand the lessons they are learning in their classrooms.

National Museum of the United States Air Force
National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio
Credit: National Museum of the United States Air Force

Other options for students include classroom experiences in science, technology, engineering and math as well as social studies-related subjects.

More than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles are displayed in more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space.

For school groups, the education division offers many hands-on programs and other activities.

Guided school tours last about two hours and are available to students in grades 4–12.

Bardua hopes students leave the National Museum of the United States Air Force with a sense of inspiration.

“We hope students walk away with a better understanding of the role of the U.S. Air Force and how it has contributed to the world we live in and the technology we all use and enjoy,” Bardua said. “The goal is to inspire students to see themselves as the next generation of achievers and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force sets the stage for that to happen.”

For more information on the National Museum of the United States Air Force call 937-255-4666 or go to nationalmuseum.af.mil.

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David Hoekman is a former newspaperman on a quest to tell the stories of the world’s various places and cultures in compelling ways. He especially enjoys learning and writing about the business of group travel. His favorite destination is wherever he is going next and his travel tip is to always pack an emergency granola bar or two.