Changes are coming to the World War II Gallery at the Museum. The Memphis Belle Exhibit will open on May 17, 2018 and other aircraft in the gallery are being moved to accommodate the famed heavy bomber that flew 25 missions over Europe.
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Flight suits from World War I through the Cold War are on display in the hallway between the World War II Gallery and the Korean War Galleries. The evolution of the head gear itself reflects the importance of protecting the pilots from weather, lack of oxygen, extreme cold and violent combat. Flight helmets starting with leather and ending with hard shells and pressurized suits are on display.
The Missile Gallery silo stands 140-feet tall between the Cold War Gallery and the Space Gallery and contains eight towering examples of ballistic missile history in the U.S. Air Force. With names like Thor, Jupiter, Titan, Minuteman and Peacekeeper, the projection of strength and brinksmanship in the Cold War can be found.
With more than 50 aircraft, missiles and engines, in the Research and Development Gallery, it's a good bet that most modern U.S. military aircraft have some lineage from these test articles. Just a few weeks ago, aviation journalist Graham Warwick posted comments about the Northrop Tacit Blue technology demonstrator which is on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. This odd looking jet proved that a stealthy aircraft could have curved surfaces -- unlike the faceted surfaces of the F-117 Nighthawk.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has free admission and parking and its warm inside. The Museum is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm. I found that the warmest places are the observation deck in the Missile Gallery and the Refueling Café located on the mezzanine between the Cold War Gallery and the fourth building.