Do you have a favorite astronaut? I do. My favorite is Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the moon. Well, in Wapakoneta, Ohio, they are lucky enough to have the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum. It really is a very cool museum and well worth a visit.
You want to know why I think it is cool? The main reason is that I respect and admire Neil Armstrong. This museum not only houses a great deal of Armstrong memorabilia, but also a lot of other things from other Ohio aviators (like John Glenn, my other favorite astronaut, and the Wright brothers). Well, those are the things I really like, my kids think the jets housed outside the museum are coolest.
However, this museum is really, really out of the way of, well, almost everywhere. The primary reason that the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum is located in out of the way Wapakoneta is because Wapakoneta declares itself the hometown of Armstrong -- and they are very proud of their native son and his July 20, 1969 moonwalk. The museum is operated by the Ohio Historical Society, a private nonprofit corporation.
The museum itself is housed in a dome. Once inside, you will find that the museum is a multi-level, multi-faceted museum. You will find everything from Apollo 11 artifacts (which Armstrong commanded) to the Gemini VIII spacecraft to samples of space food that you can actually purchase and eat. The different levels of the museum are called galleries.
If you go in order, the first gallery features things like a hot air balloon basket and a reconstructed Wilbur and Orville Wright plane to a model airplane collection detailing the development of the airplane and history of Armstrong. The gems of this collection is the 1946 Aeronca 7AC Champion -- the little yellow plane that Armstrong learned to fly in, and the 1966 Gemini VIII spacecraft that was flown by Armstrong. Of course, there are lots of other Armstrong artifacts including a very impressive space suit.
The second level houses the Lunar Exploration gallery. This was my favorite as it really contains lots of artifacts from Apollo missions including lunar tools, early space food, and flight suits. There is also the Moon Rock gallery on this level, where an actual moon rock is on display, among other things.
Continue through the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum and you will find the Astro-Theater, which has changing presentations.
The lower gallery houses such things as shuttle artifacts, a lot of information about NASA and you can even monitor NASA transmissions.
It is important to understand that although there are lots of presentations about flight, NASA, and space exploration, this is the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum. It really does focus the most on Armstrong.
It is a bit off the beaten path, but well worth the time. It provides a look into our past and perhaps some budding astronaut will be inspired to peer into our future.
PO Box 1978
Wapakoneta, OH 45895-0978
1-800-860-0142 (toll free)
Ohio Historical Society
1982 Velma Avenue
Columbus, OH 43211-2497