AF Museum plans talks

FAIRBORN —The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Fairborn will honor POW/MIA Day and the 70th birthday of the U.S. Air Force in September by offering visitors two opportunities to interact with Air Force veterans as part of its “Plane Talks” program.

On Friday, Sept. 15, Col. (Ret.) James Blackman will be available to talk to visitors in the museum’s Global Reach Gallery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in recognition of POW/MIA Day. Blackman, a former C-141 Starlifter pilot, served in the U.S. Air Force for 37 years, with 31 years in operational C-141 flying units. He participated in every mission area of the C-141 to include air land operations, inflight refueling, combat airdrop and aeromedical evacuation.

Visitors are invited to meet Blackman and learn more about his service, as well as the museum’s C-141C Hanoi Taxi, which airlifted the first American prisoners of war to freedom from Hanoi, North Vietnam, in 1973. Blackman, who will be stationed by the aircraft for his talk, served as the mission commander for the final flight of the Hanoi Taxi, when it was delivered to the museum in 2006.

As part of the U.S. Air Force’s 70th birthday celebration, the museum will offer a “Plane Talks” program, Monday, Sept. 18, from 10:30 a.m to 3:30 p.m., featuring 19 veterans stationed at aircraft throughout the museum.

Among the veterans scheduled to be there are a retired crew chief and an engineer, as well as navigators and pilots who have flown on aircraft including the B-25, C-47, C-123, C-124, C-130, C-141, F-89, F-101, F-105, HH-43, KC-97, KC-135, RC-121 and T-39. In addition, a former museum curator will be available to discuss the B-17G Flying Fortress exhibit. Collectively, the service of these veterans spans more than six decades and covers more than 42 aircraft including, the U-2 and SR-71.

Visitors may ask questions and interact with these aviation experts, who will tell personal stories and offer first-hand knowledge about the aircraft and exhibits.

Additional programs will be offered in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning nodes in the fourth building for those interested in learning more about Air Force history.

Visitors may also walk through the first aircraft purpose-built to fly the President of the United States and considered the “birthplace” of the U.S. Air Force. It was on this aircraft, the C-54 Sacred Cow, that President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 establishing the U.S. Air Force as an independent service.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located along Springfield Street. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission and parking are free. For information, visit

Staff report