Visitors encouraged to arrive early for Night at the Air Force Museum

DAYTON – For one evening only, National Museum of the U.S. Air Force visitors will have a unique opportunity to meet military reenactors, “Star Wars” characters and zoo animals; view or sit inside a cockpit; experience virtual reality; participate in kids activities; take a simulator ride; check-out a movie and much more during Night at the Air Force Museum from 6-10 p.m. Nov. 1.

Visitors planning to attend this free event are encouraged to arrive early, wear aviation-related costumes and enjoy all of the festivities. Below are some tips for planning a visit:

• Although the event will begin at 6 p.m., the museum’s café, store and theatre will remain open for visitors arriving at 5 p.m. (or earlier) who would like to eat dinner, shop for an aviation-related gift or see a film before the event begins. (Note: Event merchandise sold out early last time.)

• Visitors may enter the museum through the main entrance gate off of Springfield Street or the gate by the Armory off of Harshman Road (right turn only through Armory gate). Depending on attendance, visitors may need to park on the grass. However, golf carts will be available to transport individuals needing mobility assistance.

• All visitors may be screened with a metal detector upon entry. In addition, all bags are subject to search and may be placed through an x-ray machine. Weapons are not permitted including pocket knives.

• A limited number of strollers, electric carts and wheelchairs will be available; consider bringing your own if possible.

• Aviation-related costumes are encouraged, but all costumes must be family friendly and should not include weapons.

• For those interested in seeing inside any of the cockpits, it is suggested that you visit those first.

Aircraft open for viewing will include the C-7A, C-133A, CV-22B, F-104C, SR-71, F-117 and Tacit Blue. Cockpits available to sit-in will include the A-7D, F-4D, F-16, FB-111A and T-38, and the Air Force Recruiting Service will bring two pilot training virtual reality simulators.

Organizations scheduled to participate in the event include the Air Force Band of Flight, Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Recruiting Service, Moonshot Museum of Discovery, Civil Air Patrol, Columbus Zoo, COSI, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, RAPTOR Inc, 501st Legion and 4 Paws for Ability.

From 6-9 p.m., RAPTOR Inc. will be on-hand to cultivate respect for nature by teaching the public about the importance of raptors in the environment. Guests can stop by RAPTOR Inc.’s table to get an up-close look at some local birds of prey, touch interesting biological artifacts, hear the sounds of their calls and speak to the educators to learn why these birds are supreme hunters of the sky.

A special appearance by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also is scheduled to take place from 7-8 p.m. as the zoo provides an up-close look at some of its animal ambassadors in the museum’s fourth building.

Activities for kids will include COSI’s Science Spots traveling science exhibitions, interactive activities from the Moonshot Museum of the Discovery, balloon animals, a Bernoulli ghost hunt, jack-o-lantern corn hole, face painting and a coloring station. Children also will receive candy bags near the Space STEM Learning Node while supplies last.

Throughout the evening, the Air Force Research Lab will conduct STEM demonstrations and offer virtual reality experiences, and visitors will be able to interact with military reenactors, “Star Wars” characters or take a photo in an astronaut suit inside the National Aviation Hall of Fame (located between the first and second buildings).

Artifact displays including rarely seen items related to working animals in the Air Force, from World War I through the space race and beyond will be on exhibit. Visitors also can learn about Air Force mascots through the years or enjoy the Air Force Band of Flight’s Spirit of Freedom ensemble, which will provide a strolling performance throughout the galleries.

In addition, the Air Force Museum Theatre will feature a variety of films every 30 minutes from 5-9 p.m., at the discounted rate of $5 per ticket. Films being shown include “Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag,” “Rescue 3D,” “Journey to Space 3D” and “Aircraft Carrier 3D.”

For more information on this event, visit