Visit California’s March Field Air Museum

November 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

Located adjacent to the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, the March Field Air Museum was opened to the public on December 19, 1979. At the dedication ceremony the keynote address was delivered by Lt. General James P. Mullins, the 15th Air Force Commander. At that time the museum’s collection of photographs, paintings, documents and model airplanes detailing the history of the base from its inception in 1918 was housed in the Air Force Base theater building. In addition to the museum building, there was a park nearby where primarily historic aircraft were on display. In less than two years the museum’s collection had grown to such an extent that it needed new premises, and was moved to the former commissary building which was big enough to accommodate up to three aircraft indoors along with the growing collection of memorabilia.

Today, visitors to the March Field Air Museum will find more than 70 historic aircraft on display, including the famous Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird” and World War II aircraft such as the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-29 Superfortress, the B-25 Mitchell bomber and the Douglas A/B-26 Invader. Many of these aircraft are on loan from the USAF Museum at the Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Aircraft on display that are owned by the museum include an A-37 “Dragonfly” Cessna; C-54Q “Skymaster” Douglas; an FO-141 Folland “Gnat”; an H-21B “Workhorse” Piasecki; a MiG-19; a MiG-21F-13; and Mig-23BN, among others.

In its Heritage Courtyard, the museum features a Freedom Wall with stone plaques engraved with the wording of documents that have shaped the history of the United States, including the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address and the Constitution. Also in the courtyard is the Distinguished Flying Cross National Memorial, dedicated on October 27, 2010, along with the War Dog Memorial Sculpture dedicated to dogs and their handlers. Members of the public can purchase tiles, inscribed with a message of their choice, as part of these monuments or the courtyard. Funds raised are used to maintain and extend the museum. Plans are underway to install a monument honoring Women in Aviation in the Heritage Courtyard of the March Field Air Museum.

Wilbur Wright Honored at Carillon Historical Park

July 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

The history of the invention of the airplane more often than not brings to mind the Wright Brothers – Wilbur and Orville – and their innovative developments leading to the legendary event of the first heavier-than-air, controlled and powered flight on December 17, 1903. The Wright Brothers were born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, and their ground-breaking work was carried out there. Sadly, Wilbur Wright didn’t live to see the impact of his work on the world, as he passed away at the age of 45 on May 30, 1912, reportedly from typhoid. One hundred years later, to commemorate the life and achievements of this visionary inventor, a team of graduate students in the Public History program of Wright State University have compiled an exhibit focusing on Wilbur Wright which will be on display at Carillon Historical Park in Dayton until the end of 2012.

Wilbur and Orville’s father, Bishop Milton Wright, upon the death of his son wrote in his diary that Wilbur’s life had been short, but full of consequences. The exhibit uses this observation in the title of the exhibit “Wilbur Wright: A Life of Consequence”. The exhibit focuses on Wilbur as an individual as opposed to the way he is usually seen, as part of a team. Visitors to the exhibit will gain insight into his character, his life as a son, brother and uncle, as well as his legacy.

Certainly, Wilbur Wright’s death had a profound impact on his hometown and made headlines around the world. The Woodland Cemetery, which organized the 100th anniversary memorial service, noted in a statement that following Wilbur’s death thousands of people lined up to honor him as his body lay in state in Dayton’s First Presbyterian Church. Church bells tolled across the city at 3:30pm. Streetcars and trains stopped and businesses closed while Dayton citizens observed five minutes of silence as a token of respect. On June 1, 2012, a memorial service was held at 3pm at his graveside in Woodland Cemetery, with several churches tolling bells, while people observed a moment of silence.

Carillon Historical Park covers 65-acres and features 25 special exhibit buildings for visitors to explore. One of the highlights of the museum complex is the actual 1905 Wright Flyer III which took to the air with Orville as its pilot on June 23, 1905. Further record-breaking flights took place that year at the Huffman Prairie Flying Field outside Dayton, Ohio. The 1905 Wright Flyer III is the only airplane designated as a US National Historic Landmark.