Our Visit Aboard Air Force One

"War is Hell"

William Tecumseh Sherman

State 8: Ohio - July 16, 2017

We woke up in Lebanon, OH having had a good night sleep. First on the agenda was to drive 45 minutes north to Dayton, OH to visit the National Air Force Museum. The motto of Ohio is; Ohio: The Birth Place of Aviation. Wright Brothers were born in Dayton, OH, and conducted their early flight experiments in the city. The pioneer American Astronauts, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong were Ohio natives as well. Ohio is a state rich in aviation history, and proved to be an appropriate location for National United States Air Force Museum. The Museum, had 4.9-star rating and over 3700 reviews, and the admission was free. The reviews stated, it would take a full 8 hours just to walk through and see all of the displays. If you really want to read each display, and see all of the videos, you better have a week of vacation time in the bank. Neither Lori nor I are very familiar with aviation, so we decided to casually browse the displays.

The museum, consisted of 4 airplane hangars depicting the entire aviation history of the Air Force from its early years up to present day. We had visited the museum primarily to see the space shuttle, and the presidential planes located in the 4th airplane hangar in the museum. The Air Force One plane on display was the exact plane used for 37 years by 8 sitting presidents: Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton. Jackie Kennedy was said to have personally developed the color scheme of the interior, and she clearly had very good taste. This was also the exact aircraft that carried JFK’s body back to Washington DC after he was assassinated in Dallas, and subsequently the site where Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President on the plane flight back. Actually stepping on board Air Force One, a plane in the cross hairs of every historic event on the past half of century, was an experience neither one of us will ever forget.

We then headed to the other side of the fourth hanger which housed the NASA collection. We were very disappointed with this part of the museum. The space shuttle they advertised to be on display was just a reproduction, and not a very good one either. They had a display that showed evolution of space food over the years of the space program, which was very interesting to see. Anyone want a toothpaste tube filled with beef paste, or a 4x4 inch cube of 50-year-old freeze dried mac and cheese for dinner?

Right outside of the 4th Airplane Hangar was a missile silo displaying decommissioned nuclear missiles. This was a very disturbing site to view as there were enough nuclear weapons in this room to end life on earth. For the next few hours we meandered through the remaining 3 Airport hangars, that displayed hundreds of airplanes, weapons, and other artifacts used during every armed conflict American aviation was ever involved in.

On our way out of the museum we walked through a traveling exhibit depicting the holocaust. The had the actual pictures of German concentration camps after they were liberated, and even had a uniform on display that the prisoners of the death camps were required to wear. These uniforms are extremely rare because the allied troops confiscated and burned them after the concentration camps were liberated to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. There was also a video playing from the 1980’s that showed interviews with the American solders about their experiences liberating the Nazi death camps. These WW2 American hero's were in their 70’s, and were still haunted to this very day at the atrocities they witnessed.

There was also a special display paying tribute to Bob Hope and his work of entertaining the military overseas for over 50 years. One of Hope's Emmy's were on display, along with a letter from then president Nixon commemorating Mr. Hope on his lifetime achievements.

We left the Air Force Museum, having a bitter sweet experience. We both came to the general consensus that the museum was glorifying war, verses attempting to accurately portray aviation history. We may be getting a little political here, and apologize if we offend anyone. We spent 5 hours viewing massive machines that cost billions of dollars to design, construct and maintain, and their sole purpose is to unleash death and destruction. We could not help but wonder how many mouths that money could have fed, or how many bridges, roads or schools could have been built. Humans have done more damage to this planet over the past 100 years than in the past 1 billion years. We could have used the money to further explore space for new settlements, or generate clean renewable energy sources. Even if only a fraction of the money used to fund the US war machines were instead used to promote peace at home and around the globe, we most certainly would live in an entirely different country, and world. We even might not have ended up being involved in wars, which we had no business being involved in the first place over the past century, ultimately sparing hundreds of thousands of lives. Instead of being known for our military might, America could have a legacy of peace, innovation, and exploration. This is the America we hope to one day to live in.

After leaving the Air Force Museum, we then headed across town to the site of an 800 year old indian village, and archaeological park, called Sun Watch. In the late 1960’s the city of Dayton, OH needed to build a new sewage treatment plant. When they started construction they ended up unearthing Indian artifacts from the 14th century. Needless to say, the city had to find another site for the sewage plant, and the site was added to National Registered Historic site in 1975. Archeological excavation began shortly after, and the park opened to the public in 1988.

They were able to recreate most of the entire 14th century camp, from the palisade, to the personal and communal huts, and even the most unique feature of the settlement, a sun dial. The sun dial is constructed of 3 large wooden poles erected vertically out of the ground. Together, they accurately measure when the summer solstice occurs, so the Indians knew when to harvest their crops. The recreated sundial currently sits on the exact location of the 14th century original, and still accurately depicts the summer solstice to this very day. Simply amazing! It was very interesting to step back in time and walk along a recreated primitive Indian village on the exact site where the original village one stood over 800 years ago.

After a very busy and adventurous day we drove to the Columbus, OH the states capitol. We thankfully found a Walmart who reluctantly agreed to allow us to park there for the night in spite of the city ordinance prohibiting it.

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