Friday, June 25, 2010

Chillicothe, OH and Wright-Patterson AFB, OH

We were up early and on our way Thursday morning, June 17, to Wright-Patterson AFB, OH.  Our plans were to visit the Air Force Museum -- now referred to as the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

We spent Thursday night @ the Sun Valley Campground in Chillicothe, OH. The office is in the owner's home and is part of a mobile home park, but it was clean.

The only amenities are a bathhouse, which we didn't use, and a small lake for swimming and/or fishing.

The sites are gravel, but it is definitely pricey -- $29.00 for one night for elect and water -- no sewer -- and we never saw a dump.  The only discount was a 10% Good Sam, but there was plenty of room between sites. 

We were on our way early Friday morning, June 18, to Wright-Patterson AFB, OH,  just outside Dayton, where we planned to spend the weekend at their FamCamp.  When I originally called FamCamp, the little lady that answered the phone was a little snippy, but when we arrived, face-to-face, she wasn't quite so irritable.  There were no available pull-through sites and none with sewer, but at $20 a night, we couldn't complain.  We chose site 12.  There was a vacant site on each side of us, which gave us plenty of privacy.  All pads are concrete with a picnic table.

Across the street was the working military dog section of Security Forces.

And to the left was Munitions Storage.

There was also a lake close enough to walk to and around.

And groundhogs were everywhere -- even in the campground.

There was a bath house and laundry facilities nearby -- a dollar to wash and 50 cents to dry -- 50 cents for an hour of drying -- that's experience speaking:)

There is so much history at Wright-Patterson AFB -- referred to as "Wright-Patt" -- that it is difficult to organize, understand and present it without writing a book.  Wright-Patt is the headquarters of the Air Force "Materiel" Command, one of the major commands of the Air Force and is one of the largest, most diverse, organizationally complex bases in the Air Force.  It has a long history of flight testing -- all the way from the Wright Brothers to the Space Age.  And it's all reflected in the Air Force Museum.  We will attempt to discuss more about the museum in a later post.
Wright-Patt's history as a military installation dates back to World War I, but its aviation history began in 1904-1905 when Orville and Wilbur Wright used an 84-acre plot of land, known as Huffman Prairie Flying Field for their experimental test flights.  The base's origin began with the establishment of Wilbur Wright Field on May 22, 1917, and McCook Field in November 1917, both established by the Army Air Service as World War I installations.  McCook Field was used as a testing field for aviation experiments and Wright was used as a flying field and renamed Patterson Field in 1931.

Wright-Patt AFB was established in 1948 when Patterson and Wright Fields merged.    The base is named after the Wright brothers and Frank Stuart Patterson, son and nephew of the co-founders of National Cash Register -- also based in Dayton, OH -- who fatally crashed on June 19, 1918, during a flight test of a new mechanism for synchronizing machine gun and propeller at Wright Field.  A tie rod broke during a dive from 15,000 feet, causing the wings to separate from the aircraft.
Wright-Patt has worn many hats over the years.  Currently, the base has three primary mission areas:  operating the installation -- which includes over 5000 personnel and 60 associate units; deploying expeditionary Airmen in support of the Global War on Terrorism; and defending the base and its people. 

Following is a picture of a F-15 and F-16 on static display at the main entrance to Wright-Patt AFB.

One of the associate units is the 445th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve Command, which flies the C-5 Galaxy, which is the Air Force's largest transport aircraft of personnel and equipment.

Wright-Patt also has a major Medical Center and the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) is located at Wright-Patt.   AFIT is the Air Force’s graduate school of engineering and management, as well as its institution for technical continuing education.  There are three resident schools: the Graduate School of Engineering and Management, the School of Systems and Logistics, and the Civil Engineer and Services School. Through its Civilian Institution Programs, AFIT also manages the educational programs of officers enrolled in civilian universities, research centers, hospitals, and industrial organizations. Air Force students attending civilian institutions have earned more than 12,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees in the past twenty years.

We were surprised  how you go out one gate, drive down the road and go through another gate on the opposite side of the road to get to the BX and Commissary.  There were multiple gates but only two are open on the weekends -- the main gate and the gate to the BX and Commissary, which means going and coming to FamCamp sends you around the flightline.  By the time we left on Monday morning, we pretty much knew our way around:)

On Friday night, we discovered our coach AC was not working.  Alan investigated every possible thing he could think of but was unable to identify the problem.  Since it was hot and we were parked facing the West with no shade, we decided to just stay away as long as we could.  Since it was the weekend, we assumed any attempts to find someone to check it out would be futile.  We even considered purchasing a portable unit but decided not to.  So we bought another fan and stayed away.

We started our Saturday visiting the Wright Brothers Memorial.

We took a picture of the photograph of the dedication of the Wright Brothers Memorial on display at the memorial.

I know it's probably impossible to read the inscription on the photo, so here is what it says:

 "On August 19, 1940, Daytonians joined
some of the Wrights' earliest student 
flyers, including General Hap Arnold 
(right), then the commander of the 
Army Air Corps, to dedicate this 
memorial.  It was Orville Wright's 
(second from the right) 60th birthday."

Later in the afternoon, we moved on to the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  There is so much to take in that it took us Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday to see it all.  Therefore, our visit to the Museum will be a separate posting.  So stay tuned as we continue to sift through the numerous pics we have and attempt to organize our thoughts.

As we continue to make our way to South Dakota, we continuously think of our family and friends.  I keep saying how blessed we are, but it's true.  We are blessed to live in the United States of America  and the freedoms we enjoy and oftentimes take for granted.  As we approach July 4, may we remember our brave men and women that serve and protect this great country every day and the awesome sacrifices they and their families encounter on a daily basis.  May we never forget those who paid the ultimate sacrifice to ensure we remain the greatest free country in the world.

May God continue to bless our voyage and may God continue to bless our family and friends, near and far.

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