Take Flight with Ohio's Aviation History

by DiscoverOhio

From the founders of flight to the first American to orbit the Earth, Ohio has been at the forefront of aviation. So strap in and take off for a tour of the state’s rich aviation and space exploration history.

Begin at the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum to see the intertwined history of land and air transportation. This museum entertains with engaging exhibits and activities. Next visit the MAPS Air Museum, dedicated to military aviation. Witness exhibits of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first group of African-American military aviators in World War II, alongside other aircraft of various periods. 

Then travel to the International Women’s Air & Space Museum, which pays tribute to the achievements of women in aviation and space. Learn about famous women like Amelia Earhart and Jackie Cochran. Visit the the museum dedicated to the first man to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong. On display, are the Gemini 8 spacecraft in which Armstrong flew and Apollo 11 artifacts. In the museum's Astro-theater, multimedia presentations of the sights and sounds of space unfold against a starry background.

Ohio’s space history continues with your visit to the NASA Glenn Visitor Center at the Great Lakes Science Center. Stop at Grimes Field, Urbana’s municipal airport, for a tour of a museum devoted to Warren Grimes, who is known as the father of the aircraft lighting industry.

See where aviation was born at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. The area tells the story of brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. A critical stop on the Ohio aviation tour is a visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force with more than 400 aerospace vehicles.

The final stop is the Tri-State Warbird Museum near Cincinnati. Watch World War II military aircraft, nicknamed ‘Warbirds,’ take to the skies as they did while defending the country decades ago.


Tour Stops

  • International Women's Air & Space Museum

    Discover the achievements of women in aviation and space through exhibits that include an aerobatic plane, a flight simulator and a hands-on mission control console. Now Open! The Joan L. Hrubec Aviation Education Center, which features interactive exhibits for children like the Aviation Career Corner, Kitty Hawk Time Machine & Aviation Touch Wall.

    Learn about famous women like Amelia Earhart, Jackie Cochran, Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and more.  See the "Pretty Purple Puddy Tat", a Smith Mini-plane built and flown by Tracy Pilurs. Learn about the women pilots who underwent secret astronaut testing in 1961. Visit our space wall to see all the women who have ever been in space.  The Fay Gillis Wells Research Center houses a large collection of information about women in aviation and space. Museum and research center admission is free!

    • Address: Burke Lakefront Airport
      1501 N. Marginal Rd., Room 165
      Cleveland, Ohio 44114
    • Phone: Local Number: 2166231111
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  • Great Lakes Science Center

    There’s more to see, touch and explore at Great Lakes Science Center, located on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland! Enjoy a movie in the six-story Cleveland Clinic OMNIMAX® Theater, get hands on with hundreds of interactive exhibits, explore the new NASA Glenn Visitor Center, tour the restored William G. Mather Steamship, discover advances in medical technology in the BioMedTech gallery, witness daily science demonstrations, tour through our latest special exhibition and more!

    • Address: 601 Erieside Ave
      Cleveland, Ohio 44114
    • Phone: Local Number: 2166942000
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  • Grimes Field

    Urbana's municipal airport, Grimes Field, shines its beacon on the city's aviation heritage. The airport was given to the city in 1943 by Warren G. Grimes, the Father of Aviation Lighting and founder in 1933 of Grimes Manufacturing Co., which produced lights for every American World War II combat plane. The company continues to operate in Urbana, now as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Honeywell, a leader in commercial and military aviation lighting.

    Honoring the legacy of Mr. Grimes and his company, the Grimes Flying Lab Foundation hangar at the airport--a part of the National Aviation Heritage Area--displays company memorabilia and lighting products, and the jewel of the museum, the newly restored Grimes Flying Lab (

    The Flying Lab--a Beech 18 that served in the Air Force as a C-45H--was the fourth of a series of airplanes used by Grimes engineers to test and evaluate aircraft exterior lighting systems in flight.

    The airport also features the new Champaign Aviation Museum, which displays World War II era aircraft. A B-17 Flying Fortress is currently being restored to flying condition by volunteers at the airport ( The project will be moved into the museum.

    In 2008, the nation's second oldest regional fly-in, the Mid-Eastern Regional Fly-in (MERFI), made Grimes Field its new home. MERFI is held the last weekend of August.

    Pilots and motorists alike come in for a landing to enjoy the Airport Cafe's appetizing breakfast, lunch and dinner menus--open 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday (closed Monday).

    • Address: 1636 N. Main St.
      Urbana, Ohio 43078
    • Phone: Local Number: 9376524319
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  • Armstrong Air & Space Museum

    Named in honor of Neil Armstrong, first man to set foot on the moon, this museum in Wapakoneta chronicles Ohio's contributions to the history of space flight. Among the items on display are a F5D Sky Lancer, the Gemini VIII spacecraft, Apollo 11 artifacts and a moon rock. In the museum's Astro-theater, multimedia presentations of the sights and sounds of space unfold against a starry background.

    July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong descended the lunar excursion module's (LEM) ladder. As he stepped onto the moon’s surface, he stated, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” 

    The United States had bested the Soviet Union in the race to the moon and fulfilled President Kennedy’s challenge to do so before the end of the decade. 

    The Apollo 11 crew had completed the greatest journey in human history, putting men on the moon and setting the course for the future of the nation’s space program. From Armstrong’s hometown of Wapakoneta, across the United States, and around the world, people wanted to honor their feat

    • Address: 500 Apollo Drive
      Wapakoneta, Ohio 45895
    • Phone: Toll-Free: (800) 860-0142
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  • Crawford Auto Aviation Collection of Western Reserve Historical Society

    The Crawford Auto Aviation Collection of Western Reserve Historical Society, presents the history of land and air transportation by using interesting, engaging and entertaining exhibits, displays and activities.
    The Museum collects and preserves historically and technically important automobiles, aircraft, bicycles, motorcycles, spacecraft and related accessories and archival materials that illustrate the development of transportation and its connection to the culture and history of Northeast Ohio, the United States and the world.

    In addition to the vehicles on exhibit, guests can take a stroll down the 19th-century "Crawford Lane" and peek into the store fronts of the period. 

    We’re the only place you won’t mind bumper to bumper traffic!

    Due to gallery transformations, the collection is not available until Late 2012.

    • Address: 10825 East Blvd
      Cleveland, Ohio 44106
    • Phone: Local Number: 2167215722
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  • MAPS Air Museum

    The MAPS (Military Aviation Preservation Society) Air Museum is an internationality known aviation museum. MAPS is building a permanent collection of vintage military and significant civilian aircraft. The museum is also a repository of educational & historical displays, published materials and collected artifacts. The museum’s mission is to restore and exhibit the aircraft and preserve the history of the men and women that flew, designed, built, maintained and supported them in times of peace as well as conflict. We have exhibits on the Tuskegee Airmen, USS Arizona, WASPs and WWII and WWI aviators. Some of our aircraft include: F-14B Tomcat, F-4S Phantom, AH-1 Cobra Helicopter, MiG-17F Fresco, B-26 Marauder, Sopwith Triplane and a 1908 Martin Monoplane—in which Almina Martin became the first woman ever to fly solo a heavier-than-air aircraft. Our newest addition is the GZ-22 "Spirit of Akron" Goodyear blimp gondola.

    • Address: 2260 International Parkway
      West Side of Akron-Canton Airport
      North Canton, OH 44720
    • Phone: Local Number: 3308966332
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  • Tri-State Warbird Museum

    The Tri-State Warbird Museum is a historic aviation museum dedicted to remembering those who fought for our freedom and honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We preserve, restore and operate World War II military aircrafts (warbirds) as a means to contributre to the education and awareness of the role the American people and aircraft played in WWII. The museum is a flying museum, and working restoration facility. We are able to to provide a unique 'up close and personal' opportunity to learn about aviation history.

    • Address: 4021 Borman Drive
      Batavia, OH 45102
    • Phone: Local Number: 5137354500
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  • National Museum of the United States Air Force

    The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum. The museum welcomes about one million visitors from around the world each year and boasts 17 acres of indoor exhibit space, more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles, and thousands of artifacts.

    • Address: 1100 Spaatz St.
      Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433
    • Phone: Local Number: (937) 255-3286
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