Published in Midwest Flyer – August/September 2019 issue
DAYTON, OHIO – On July 20, 1969, history was made during the Apollo 11 spaceflight as astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Fifty years later, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, commemorated this historic feat by offering visitors an “out of this world” experience including an opportunity to meet an astronaut; build and launch rockets; interact with Star Wars characters and much more during Family Day on July 20.
Designed for children and adults of all ages, Family Day offered several hands-on opportunities for all to enjoy. Activities included virtual reality experiences; various space-related demonstrations on topics such as rocket guidance, orbits and microgravity; a scale model display; special displays of artifacts and archival materials from the Collections and Research Divisions; a pop culture display; Star Wars costumed characters; and space trivia. Visitors built rockets and launched them on museum grounds.
Astronaut Mark Brown was available to meet with the public and sign autographs. He served as a mission specialist on both Space Shuttle Columbia in 1989, and on Space Shuttle Discovery in 1991.
In addition, there were five presentations in the Carney Auditorium on topics such as spacesuits; little known facts about the Apollo program; the effects of space on the human body and more.
According to museum aerospace educator, Cindy Henry, it is important to not only remember this great achievement, but to see its potential for encouraging young people to go even farther one day. Henry said that the museum was thrilled to commemorate this momentous event with a day filled with exciting educational activities to remember the achievements of that day and to inspire the next generation of engineers, scientists and explorers.
Visitors also checked out the new space suit exhibit that recently opened at the museum. The exhibit contains a total of seven space suits spanning the earliest to the latest in spaceflight including those from the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and Space Shuttle missions.
The Air Force Museum Foundation offered several space-related films in the Air Force Museum Theatre including “Apollo 11: First Steps 2D;” “Armstrong;” and “First Man.”
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, is the world’s largest military aviation museum. With free admission and parking, the museum features more than 350 aerospace vehicles and missiles and thousands of artifacts amid more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space. Each year more than 800,000 visitors from around the world come to the museum. For more information, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.