Pictured outside the main USAF museum building, Columbine III was US President Dwight D. Eisenhower's personal aircraft from 1954 until leaving office in 1961. Ordered by the US Navy as bu 131650, it left the factory as the sole USAF VC-131E. Continuing non-presidential VIP transport duties after replacement by a new VC-137, the aircraft was retired in 1966 and ferried to Wright-Patterson AFB for the United States Air Force Museum.
Two-seat closed cockpit parasol-winged observation monoplane, the only survivor of 90 built for the USAAC from 1935. Crashed at Harlingen TX 27.11.42 and remains retrieved in 1967 and restored for display.
The X-13 was intended to prove that a jet could take off vertically, transition to horizontal flight and return to vertical flight for landing. It was hoped that such a jet would lead the way for submarine-based aircraft and provide offensive capability should conventional runways be destroyed in an attack. This is the second of two X-13s, completing the first full-cycle flight in April 1957 at Edwards AFB and is now on dispaly in the R&D Gallery of the NMUSAF's new fourth building.
The British-built Kestrel was the prototype version of the Harrier and became the world's first operational VSTOL fighter with the RAF in 1969. As XS688 this was one of six Kestrels that came to Edwards AFB for US armed forces testing and subsequent entry into service with the US Marine Corps. This example is now on display in the R&D Gallery of the NMUSAF.
The Army ordered the first O-58s in 1941 to test the use of light aircraft for liaison and observation missions in direct support of ground forces. Between 1941 and 1943, Aeronca Aircraft Corp. of Middletown, Ohio, built more than 1,400 of these aircraft for the Army, of which 875 were L-3Bs. During WWII, L-3s were used in artillery fire direction, courier service, front-line liaison and pilot training. This example is on display at the National Museum of the USAF.
During WWI Italian aeronautical engineer Gianni Caproni developed a series of multi-engine heavy bombers that played a key role in the Allied strategic bombing campaign. His bombers were produced not only in Italy but also in France, Great Britain and the US. Toward the end of the war the definitive version, the Ca. 36, went into production with Ca. 36s remaining in Italian AF service as late as 1929. The NMUSAF obtained this example from the Museo Aeronautica Caproni di Taliedo in Italy in 1987.
This is possibly the most valuable MiG-15 ever produced, certainly from an US perspective. During the Korean War the US tried unsuccessfully to obtain a 'Fagot' for technical and evaluation puposes but this example landed at Kimpo AB, South Korea by defecting pilot No Kum-Sok. Subsequently test flown and evaluated an offer to North Korea to hand back the plane to it's 'righful owners' was rebuffed and so instead it went on display at the National Museum of the USAF at Dayton.
'Chuck's Challenge' was one of the last operational USAF Albatrosses. She set a world altitude record for twin-engined amphibians after reaching 32,883 feet on July 4, 1973 and then promptly retired and flown to the National Museum of the USAF for preservation.
Normally I don't photograph very early aeroplanes but being in Dayton, home of the Wright Brothers, of powered flight and the first airport... it would be rude not to! This original Flyer is a modified version of the Type B Flyer, the major modifications are the installation of an eight-cylinder Rausenberger engine instead of the original four-cylinder Wright engine and the addition of ailerons on the trailing edges of the wings in place of the Wrights' wing warping design.
This is the prototype C-17 and made her first flight on 15th Sept. 1991 flying from Long Beach to Edwards AFB, CA. After completing the test program for the Globemaster III she then became a testbed for the USAF, NASA and other flight-test agencies, as well as finding time to appear in quite a few blockbuster movies. She was retired at Edwards during 2011 and flown the following year to the National Museum of the USAF for display.
The Valiant was the basic trainer most widely used by the USAAF during WWII, representing the 2nd of the 3 stages of pilot training; primary, basic and advanced. Compared with the primary trainers in use at the time, it was considerably more complex with a more powerful engine, so faster and heavier. In addition, it required the student pilot to use two-way radio comms and to operate landing flaps and a two-position variable pitch propeller. This example is on display at the National Museum of the USAF.
To conserve scarce metals for combat aircraft, Beech built this trainer out of plywood with only the engine cowlings and cockpit enclosure made from aluminium. The fuel tanks also were made of wood and covered with the synthetic rubber, neoprene. The AT-10 had superior performance among twin engine trainers of its type and in which over half of the USAAFs pilots received transitional training from single- to multi-engine aircraft. The National Museum of the USAF placed this AT-10 on display in June 1997.
This F-4 was delivered to the USAF during 1965 and served in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Cuba, Europe and the Middle East. During Desert Storm/Shield this F-4 flew 172 sorties, more than any other Phantom and carries nose art to make that point.