The National Museum of the United States Air Force

I’ve never operated the controls of an airplane, and I’ve never served in the military, but aircraft are a lifelong interest of mine. When looking for interesting places to see on my way to Meg’s, I just happened to find this museum along the way near Dayton. That’s striking distance from Eugenia, too, who was interested in meeting up. She suggested we meet at the museum and explore it together, so that’s exactly what we did.

Smokey and Dream Chaser

We arrived right at opening at 9:00 am to avoid most of the crowd. By Eugenia’s suggestion, seconded by the person working there who we talked to, we skipped directly to the fourth and final hangar of the museum to check out the collection of Presidential aircraft. Not only did they have all of the previous “Air Force Ones” from FDR through Reagan (the current 747-based VC-25A is still in active use), we could walk through them. Talk about walking through history! Who knows what history-making decisions were made on these planes. I do know I walked right through where Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as President after Kennedy’s assassination. I’ve seen that iconic, historic photo of LBJ and Jacqueline Kennedy my whole life, and then I was THERE. It blows the mind.

I grew up knowing this aircraft as Air Force One.

I snapped this picture from the exit of Columbine II, which was Eisenhower’s Presidential plane and the first plane to use the callsign Air Force One. In 1953, air traffic control confused the President’s plane, which was then Air Force 8610, with Eastern Airlines flight 8610, resulting in some confusion. From that point on, the President’s plane always used the callsign Air Force One — but only when the President was on board.

The first Air Force One, under Eisenhower.

While watching random YouTube videos one night I watched a series about this plane’s restoration from a dilapidated heap into the literal museum piece you see today. The story is all over the internet, and now it has its rightful place among other Presidential aircraft.

An Air Force Kawasaki KL250!

The Presidential aircraft collection was just one small part of the museum. We worked our way back through the other four hangars. From across one of them I recognized a motorcycle very much like my own. This was a Kawasaki KL250, not a KLR650 like mine, but still strongly based on the civilian-spec go-anywhere dual-sport. I knew the Marines used KLRs, but not that other branches used similar bikes. This one was posed next to a V-22 Osprey.

B-2 bomber.

You probably can’t even see me under this B-2, the only one in a museum. Part of the wing suffered some kind of thermal damage in testing making it no longer airworthy, so it sits here instead.

I could go on and on about airplanes, and share many more pictures that I took, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I’m extremely happy I found this place and decided to visit. It was a LOT of walking, and my previously broken foot felt it for the rest of the day, but it was worth it.

Thanks, Eugenia!

We then found lunch, and I followed her back to her place to meet Matilda, her dog. Thanks for hanging out and showing me around! She’s about to start a road trip of her own, a year-long lap around the circumference of the US, starting October 1. Check out her website to follow her journey. I look forward to our paths crossing again.


It was time to put some miles behind me, so I drove to a Cracker Barrel in Bloomington, Indiana. I had an enjoyable (as usual) dinner, and planned to spend the night. Imagine my surprise when I came back to my van and found this kindred spirit parked next to me! Reading the stickers, I looked up WhereverIMayRoamBus on Instagram and dropped them a friendly “Hi, neighbor” message. They’re a couple, Maddie and Matthew, with a bus, a bike (Triumph Bonneville, in case you’re wondering), and a cat, Pterabyte. Sound familiar? Unlike my rapid build, they spent the last two years putting this bus together, yet hit the road around the same time I did. Scrolling back their Instagram a bit, I even found pictures of their visit to Jungle Friends, the primate sanctuary Trisha and I stayed at on our way to Bushnell, Florida. It’s a small world, after all.

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