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Air Force Museum to spotlight a new plane monthly in 'open aircraft days'

Boeing VC-137C SAM 26000, most famous as President John F. Kennedy's plane, on display in the Presidential Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

JIM COPES/U.S. AIR FORCE

By THOMAS GNAU | Dayton Daily News, Ohio | Published: April 6, 2021

DAYTON, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is gearing up to turn its spotlight to a different plane each month in a new way.

The idea is to give visitors an up-close look at special aircraft in the museum's collection from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on select days. It begins April 17, when visitors will be able to walk through the AC-130A Spectre, the museum said recently.

The Spectre is a C-130 converted to a gunship used for night attacks against ground targets. Visitors will have a chance to learn about this aircraft from six retired U.S. Air Force veterans: Col. Frank Alfter, Lt. Col. Larry Flinn, Col. Tom Gardner, Col. Carl Peirolo, Col. Bob Pinizzotto and Master Sgt. Shane Sprague.

Each has served as a crew member for this type of aircraft and has knowledge of other aircraft.

Then on May 8, the museum opens the cockpit of the mighty F-22A Raptor.

"The Raptor combines stealth, maneuverability and the ability to fly long distances at supersonic speeds in performance of air superiority and air-to-ground missions," the museum said.

The aircraft on display at the museum (S/N 91-4003) rolled off the Lockheed Martin assembly line in Georgia in May 1999. Visitors will have the opportunity to speak with Maj. (ret.) James Miklasevich, a museum volunteer and F-22 systems engineer.

Visitors can walk inside the C-7A Caribou June 19. This twin-engine, short takeoff and landing utility transport aircraft was originally delivered to the U.S. Army in 1961, but in Jan. 1967, the responsibility for all fixed-wing tactical transports was transferred to the U.S. Air Force.

Museum volunteer and former aircraft structural repairman, Senior Master Sgt. (ret.) Jerry Mongelli, will share more information about this aircraft during the event.

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Director David Tillotson expects "open aircraft days" to be a popular event for visitors.

"We often receive requests from visitors to look inside some of our aircraft and we are happy to accommodate them with this unique opportunity," Tillotson said. "We will open one aircraft per month for four hours during either a Friday or Saturday, and offer visitors the chance to have an up close look — and sometimes even walk inside the aircraft."

The schedule of aircraft to be opened each month will be announced in advance on a quarterly basis. For a list of the open aircraft dates, visit https://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/Upcoming/Events/.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, 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.

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