You never know what you may come across in the galleries at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force! Out-of-this-world activities – and perhaps even some “extra-terrestrials” – await visitors to the museum during Space Fest on May 16-17 when the museum and more than 20 other participating organizations offer a multitude of space-related activities for visitors of all ages. All activities are free, unless otherwise noted.
The event begins Friday, May 16 with a special showing of the film Gravity (in 3D) at 7 p.m. at the Air Force Museum Theatre. Former Astronaut and retired Air Force Colonel Gregory H. Johnson will introduce the show and answer questions immediately following. The theatre will charge a reduced price of $4 per person, and tickets may be purchased at www.afmuseum.com/attractions/
During another unique experience on Friday, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Force Support Fitness is hosting the “5K Fun Run: Glow in the Dark Edition” on the runway behind the museum. A 1-mile kids’ race begins at 8 p.m., and then at 8:30 p.m. 5K participants can run or walk through a scale version of the solar system. The pre-registration entry fee is $25 and includes a t-shirt. Race day registration is $30, but a t-shirt is not guaranteed. Registration forms for both races are available at https://endurancecui.active.
Finally, a free star-gaze with telescopes will take place at 9:30 p.m. Friday near the museum’s Memorial Park. Miami Valley Astronomical Society members will set up telescopes and be available for questions and answers.
On Saturday, May 17, visitors will find a variety of free, interactive and fun space-themed activities for all ages, including special appearances by astronauts, a chance to see the museum’s new Space Shuttle Exhibit, space shuttle computer simulators, model rocket building and launching, a 35-foot tall inflatable space shuttle model, indoor planetarium, solar viewing, “Picture Yourself in Space” photo booth, a space pop culture collection, 3D printer, and even special costumed characters.
Visitors can listen to presentations by current Astronaut and Army Colonel Douglas H. Wheelock, who spent nearly six months on the International Space Station in 2010, and former Astronaut Dr. Donald A. Thomas, a veteran of four space flights during the 1990s with more than 1,040 hours in space. The two will sign autographs at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Space Shuttle Exhibit. Then, Wheelock will speak at 1 p.m. and Thomas at 3 p.m. in the museum’s Carney Auditorium.
In addition, Dr. Doug Lantry, museum curator and Space Shuttle Exhibit project manager, will talk about space suits at 2 p.m. in the STEM Learning Node, located adjacent to the Space Shuttle Exhibit.
Popular space-themed music will echo through the museum galleries as two area groups perform space-related musical numbers to entertain visitors. The Troy Tones Show Choir will perform at 10 a.m. near the Space Shuttle Exhibit. At noon, the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight’s Wright Brass ensemble will play in the museum’s second building.
The first space trivia contest will be held at 10:30 a.m. in the STEM Learning Node. This contest will take place prior to the Dayton Challenger Learning Center’s presentation of one of “Christa’s Lost Lessons,” which are based on the lessons NASA Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe was developing at the time of the Challenger disaster. Additional trivia contests will take place at 12:30 p.m. and at 2:30 p.m., before the astronaut presentations in Carney Auditorium. All three trivia contests are open to visitors of all ages, and prizes will be awarded.
Younger visitors will have fun on the inflatable Space Shuttle Slide and Space Camp Bounce House, which will be set-up in front of the museum (weather permitting). Children will also enjoy storytime, offered by the Greene County Public Library from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and face painting from noon-2 p.m.
The museum is partnering with more than 20 other organizations to provide activities throughout the day, including the Air Force Research Laboratory, AIAA Dayton-Cincinnati Section, Air Force Institute of Technology, Air Force Museum Foundation, Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati Observatory, Columbus School of Model Rocketry, Dayton Challenger Learning Center, Engineers Club of Dayton, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, Greene County Public Library, KinderCare, Mars Society – Ohio Chapter, Miami Valley Astronomical Society, NASA Glenn Research Center, National Aviation Hall of Fame, R2-D2 Club, SWFTEC, Team Ohio Rocketry Club and WPAFB Force Support Fitness.
In addition, the Air Force Museum Theatre will show Hidden Universe at noon and 2 p.m. Saturday as part of its normal schedule. Reduced rates of $6 will be offered for those showings of Hidden Universe. The interactive flight simulators and Morphis Movie Ride Simulator will be open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. A reduced rate of $3 will be offered on the Morphis ride, and visitors can request the spacewalk ride.
The Valkyrie Café, Refueling Café and an outdoor grill will have food available for purchase, and the museum store will be selling event t-shirts in addition to their aviation- and space-related items.
More information about the event, including a complete schedule, is available on the museum’s website, www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day). Admission and parking are free. For more information about the museum, visit www.nationalmuseum.af.mil.