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5 Midwest winter getaways near Dayton that will make you WANT cabin fever

Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

5 Midwest winter getaways near Dayton that will make you WANT cabin fever

The Midwest, particularly the region around Southwest Ohio, has some major advantages over other regions this time of year. 

It’s hard to completely loathe winter when you’re curled up under a mound of blankets, feet away from a crackling fireplace, sipping a cup of hot chocolate that just reached its ideal temperature. That kind of warm and cozy feeling is only earned after enduring months of a Midwestern winter.

>> Your chance to take a guided hike of one of the area’s most beautiful preserves 

So free up a few days on your calendar, because there are plenty of perfect getaways within a few hours of Dayton that are guaranteed to warm your spirits.

1. MAUMEE BAY RESORT

Located in the heart of Maumee Bay State Park, Maumee Bay Resort might be one of the best ways to experience Ohio’s lake life during the frozen months. 80 acres of preserved wetlands, right on the shores of Lake Erie, transform into frosty hiking fields during winter. Cross-country ski equipment is available to rent for a day of exploring on the three-mile Mouse Trail where winter birds can be seen by the dozens. 

The cozy resort is within minutes of the beach, where you’ll be able admire the frozen tundra of the Great Lakes, then head back to defrost by the fire.

(Maumee Bay State Park)

>> Why did this 170 year-old church close in Trotwood?

Want to go? 

WHAT: Maumee Bay Resort

WHERE: Maumee Bay State Park, 1750 State Park Rd., #2, Oregon, Ohio

INFO: Facebook

2. MURPHIN RIDGE INN

(Murphin Ridge Inn)

This getaway is truly a getaway. Situated on 142 acres of some of Amish Country’s most breathtaking vistas, the Murphin Ridge Inn was recognized as one of the U.S.’s Top 10 Bed and Breakfasts in 2016.

>> 5 underground railroad sites near Dayton you should visit

The lodge, furnished with “museum quality shaker reproductions” according to Ohio Magazine, isn’t a cheap stay. However, special off-season prices that last through the end of March make winter a perfect time to visit. Rave reviews from almost every guest on their website make it easy to see why this destination is a getaway lover’s dream come true.

(Murphin Ridge Inn)

Want to go? 

WHAT: Murphin Ridge Inn

WHERE: 750 Murphin Ridge Road, West Union, Ohio

INFO: murphinridgeinn.com

3. SHAWNEE LODGE

At Shawnee Lodge, any stressors that have been weighing you down are bound to get lost somewhere in Shawnee State Forest’s 63,000 acres of rolling hills— also known as “Ohio’s Little Smokies.” You can choose between staying at the resort lodge, where you’ll be able to soak in a steaming hot tub after an afternoon of picturesque winter hiking, or snuggle in with your loved ones at one of the 25 cottages available— fireplaces most definitely included. 

(Kenneth Petersen)

Want to go? 

WHAT: Shawnee Lodge

WHERE: 4404B State Route 125. West Portsmouth, Ohio

INFO: shawneeparklodge.com

4. FRENCH LICK RESORT

If you are really trying to put your feet up and make lavish memories you’ll want to revisit over and over again, then the French Lick Resort needs to be on your agenda. The nationally recognized resort complex, which boasts two AAA Four Diamond hotels, two spas and a Vegas-style casino, is only three hours and some change from Dayton.

(French Lick Resort Facebook)

Not only is the resort ultra luxurious, its history will make your relaxing weekend getaway all the more alluring. Although destroyed in an 1897 fire, the complex was originally known as the French Lick’s Springs Hotel. Guests would come from near and far to benefit from the advertised healing properties of the town’s sulrfur springs— three of which were on the hotel’s properties.

>>9 things to see and do in Ohio’s only national park

If you still need more convincing, dogs are very, very welcome to partake in all the resort has to offer.

(French Lick Resort Facebook)

Want to go? 

WHAT: French Lick Resort

WHERE: 8670 W. State 56, French Lick, Indiana 

INFO: frenchlick.com

5. CLIFFVIEW RESORT 

Dubbed as “Winter in the Kentucky Mountains,” Cliffview Resort is about as cozy as winter gets. The eastern Kentucky hilltop resort is just three hours away from the Gem City and situated right next to Red River Gorge and Daniel Boone National Forest. If gorgeous views are what you’re after while you get away from it all, look no further.

(cliffviewresort.com)

(cliffviewresort.com)

Want to go? 

WHAT: Cliffview Resort

WHERE: 455 Cliff View Rd., Kentucky

INFO: cliffviewresort.com

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4 places to go swimming in the Dayton area you might have forgotten about

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Clifton Gorge has one of the must-visit waterfalls in the Dayton-area.

Things are warming up, which means it’s time to look for fun places to cool off and take a dip this summer.

>> 3 of the best fishing spots in Dayton

Here are 4 great places to go swimming in and near Dayton that you should totally consider the next time you need a day by the water. We’ll be updating this list throughout the summer, so keep checking back for more pool ideas. 

>> 4 breathtaking waterfalls near Dayton you must visit

Did we miss your favorite summer swimming spot? Please let us know and we’ll add it to the list! contact@dayton.com

🌞Kroger Aquatic Center At The Heights

8625 Brandt Pike, Huber Heights

Swimmers at the Kroger Aquatics Center at The Heights float around the Lazy River on a warm Tuesday afternoon. The parking lot of the water park was almost full by noon.(Ty Greenlees)

This water park in Huber Heights has it all. The family can enjoy the sun with water slides, a leisure pool, a “spray-ground,” and a lazy river.

Hours and info: www.hhoh.org

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🌞Adventure Reef Water Park

2900 Glengarry Dr., Kettering

Adventure Reef Water Park has the biggest waterslide in Montgomery County.(Dayton Daily News)

The 3-acre outdoor water facility has some of the highest and fastest slides in Montgomery County, according to its website. With deck seating, a large water playground and a splash pad, this could be your summer destination.

Hours and info: playkettering.org

>>The same local BBQ rub declared worst, best in America

🌞Gardner Memorial Swimming Pool

105 Patterson Rd., Oakwood

Gardner Memorial Swimming Pool was a gift to the residents of Oakwood.(Gardner Memorial Swimming Pool)

The Gardner Memorial Swimming Pool was gifted to the residents of Oakwood to “provide relaxation from Memorial Day to Labor Day.” Although it is a smaller community pool, Gardner still sells lunch and drinks— perfect for a couple of hours poolside to help break up your day. You do, however, need to be an Oakwood resident and purchase a pool membership to go. 

Hours and info: Facebook

🌞Black Oak Swim Club

1570 Ambridge Rd., Centerville

Black Oak Swim Club in Centerville.(Swim at Black Oak)

There are year-round activities at this member-owned pool facility in Centerville. But in the summertime, it’s all about splashing and sliding into the pool. 

Hours and info: blackoakswimclub.com

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Your guide to the best hidden gem ice cream shops around Dayton

Published: Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 6:00 AM

Kate Harvey, 16, serves an ice cream cone during her shift at Twist Ice Cream Company Wednesday, May 31 on Bethany Road in Liberty Twp. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Staff Writer
Kate Harvey, 16, serves an ice cream cone during her shift at Twist Ice Cream Company Wednesday, May 31 on Bethany Road in Liberty Twp. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF(Staff Writer)

The weather is finally hot enough for us to enjoy a frozen treat. 

>> 10 reasons we LOVE spring in Dayton

If you’re anything like me, the family-owned dairy joints with decades of loyal patrons are always my go-to. There’s just something about those quaint shops with tried-and-true flavors and concoctions that have garnered decades of fans. Here’s a guide to treating yourself with the area’s most loved, best kept secrets in frozen treats. 

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The Caramel Apple Delight Stuffed Snowball from Ducky's Snowballs & Ice Cream in Troy. This frozen treat includes sour apple snow filled with vanilla softserve ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce. MICHELLE FONG/STAFF

🍦 Ducky’s Snowballs & Ice Cream 

WHERE: 100 W. Market St., Troy

WHY WE LOVE IT: Since 2015, Ducky’s has been a summertime beacon in Troy, serving up 16 flavors of Hershey’s ice cream, soft serve and snowballs (flavored shaved ice), which combine shaved ice with soft-serve ice cream. Looking for something super sweet? Try the stuffed snowball challenge (and send us photos). Oh, they also have Jim’s Donuts filled with ice cream. Yes, they sure do!

>> This ice cream filled donut is all you will ever need in life

HOURS: Mon.-Thurs. 3 to 9 p.m., Fri. 3 to 10 p.m., Sat. 2 to 10 p.m., Sun. 1 to 9 p.m.

INFO: Call 937-703-5463 | Facebook

Guests at Ducky's Snowballs & Ice Cream in Troy kick back and relax and enjoy a little treat inside the shop that was converted from an old BP gas station. There is seating indoors and outdoors plus a small game room. MICHELLE FONG/STAFF

>> Things to look forward to in Dayton as the weather warms up

>> Your 2018 Dayton bucket list: 50 ideas for fun

🍦Arrow Queen

WHERE: 431 N. Main St., New Carlisle

WHY WE LOVE IT: Tucked back on North Main Street in quaint New Carlisle, this spot has been serving ice cream, soft serve and concession-style food since 1970. From classics like banana split to zany new flavors (we’re looking at you, unicorn flavor!), there’s something for everyone. Their butcher shop hot dogs are a must try, too.

HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat. 12 to 9 p.m., Sun. 1 to 9 p.m.

INFO: Call 937-845-9979 | Facebook

>> 4 awesome adult sports leagues in Dayton to join this spring and summer

🍦Dairy Shed

WHERE: 55 Bellbrook Plaza, Bellbrook

WHY WE LOVE IT:  For over 40 years, this local favorite in the heart of Bellbrook has treated sweet teeth with their tasty frozen yogurt, shakes, malts and ice cream. They announce new yogurt flavors on Facebook regularly, so keep an eye out for something you want to try. 

HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sun. 1 to 9 p.m.

INFO: Call 937-848-8234 | Facebook

>> Your guide to Dayton-area food truck events this month

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🍦Jet Freeze

WHERE: 4014 E. Patterson Blvd., Beavercreek

WHY WE LOVE IT: A quick peek at the Facebook reviews will show you most patrons have been visiting this ice cream shop since they were a kid -- so you know it must be good. Their soft serve is an absolute must-try, with unique flavors like blueberry and classics like chocolate.

HOURS: Mon.-Sun. 12 to 9 p.m.

INFO: Call 937-848-8234 | Facebook

>> These are the best spring hikes you can take in Dayton

🍦Kone Korner Ice Cream & Deli

WHERE: 3709 St. Paris Pike, Springfield

WHY WE LOVE IT: This family-run spot has the best of both worlds: ice cream and sandwiches. From their Facebook page, you can see their cyclones, funnel cake fries and foot-long coneys are MUST tries.

HOURS: Mon.-Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

INFO: Call 937-390-2663 | Facebook

>> 12 top hiking trails near and in Dayton you’ll want to add to your to-do list

>> 4 breathtaking waterfalls you can visit near Dayton

🍦Lee Ann’s Dairy Delight

WHERE: 619 E. High St., Springfield

WHY WE LOVE IT: Serving up frozen treats and made to order food, this spot beckons for summer nights. A few Facebook reviewers noted their banana splits are out of this world — and for the price, the menu delivers big time.

HOURS: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

INFO: Call 937-561-4475 | Facebook

>> 3 of the best spring wines to try priced under $20

🍦Airline Dairy Creme

WHERE: 224 N. Dixie Drive, Vandalia

WHY WE LOVE IT: Another staple in the summer, this spot has been around for ages. As one Facebook reviewer put it: “Soft pretzels and ice cream at the same place. What more do you need?’ Trust us, try the peanut butter shake.

HOURS: Mon.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

INFO: 937-898-3100 | Facebook

>> 7 (more) great places to get a frozen treat in Dayton

>> Classic Dayton restaurants you have to try

🍦The Dairy Station

WHERE: 704 N. Detroit St., Xenia

WHY WE LOVE IT: Conveniently located near the bike trail in Xenia, this stop has a ton of flavors and options to satisfy your taste for ice cream. There are plenty of gluten-free options including the Dole whip (which has glowing reviews online). Give their twisted soft serve cones a try, and you’ll soon see what the hype is about. 

HOURS: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sun. 12 to 9 p.m.

INFO: Call 937-372-1100 | Facebook

>> 8 classic Dayton-area restaurants that we miss

🍦Twist Ice Cream Company

WHERE: 7813 Bethany Rd., Liberty Township

WHY WE LOVE IT: These guys don’t skimp on variety or flavor. Reviewers noted their caramel sundae and weekly flavors never fail. We’ve been told they also make animals out of their ice cream, which has us super intrigued. Keep in mind, it’s cash only.

HOURS: Mon.-Fri. 3:30 to 9 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 12 to 9:30 p.m.

INFO: Call 513-777-7813 | Facebook

>> When is Jubie’s opening in Fairborn? (APRIL) 

Honorable mentions: Jubie’s Creamery (opening soon in Fairborn) and Sweet P’s (located at the 2nd St. Market). 

>> 8 classic Dayton-area restaurants that we miss

What’s your favorite ice cream shop? We’d love to know! Email alex.perry@coxinc.com

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Plan the perfect picnic in Dayton: where to go

Published: Saturday, April 18, 2015 @ 6:00 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 1:04 PM

Finding the perfect place to BYOB (bring your own basket) is a breeze with our favorite parks to spread out that blanket and relax with good friends and good food. (Video by Tabatha Wharton)

It’s the perfect time of year to plan a picnic — whether it’s with your love, your friends or your family. 

Our goal is to make picnic planning simple for you so you can relax and enjoy.

>> Wondering what to eat on your picnic? Here are some Dayton favorites

We’ve scoured the area to discover the most scenic, friendly, and fun places to set out your blanket and enjoy delicious food in the great outdoors.

WHERE TO GO FOR YOUR PICNIC

Carillon Historical Park, 1000 Carillon Blvd., Dayton

Culp's Cafe, located on the grounds of the Carillon Historical Park, has a variety of sandwiches, soups, sides and ice cream treats. FILE PHOTO / LISA POWELL(Lisa Powell)

In 1950, Carillon Historical Park’s museum complex opened with the purpose of showcasing the region’s industrial innovations, transportation achievements, and Dayton’s contributions to world progress. Since construction first began on Deeds Carillon in 1940, the dreams of Edith and Edward Deeds have evolved into a beautiful 65-acre campus—designed by the Olmsted Brothers (the famed landscape architects responsible for Central Park)—containing dozens of museum buildings, countless artifacts, and picturesque green space perfect for a relaxing picnic. 

>> The craziest playground slide in Dayton will thrill people of all ages

John Bryan State Park, 3790 Ohio 370, Yellow Springs

Emily Blair and Aaron Wheeler, both of Springfield, look at a map of John Bryan State Park while out for a hike on Wednesday, April 23. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF(Chris Stewart)

John Bryan is the most scenic state park in western Ohio. The 752-acre park contains a remarkable limestone gorge cut by the Little Miami River which is designated as a state and national scenic river. A portion of the gorge itself is designated as a national natural landmark. With both reservable covered picnic areas, a day lodge, and picnic tables available at all campsites, there are plenty of places with remarkable views to enjoy a bite with your buds and besties.

>> 5 facts about Glen Helen Nature Preserve

Lincoln Park Civic Commons, 675 Lincoln Park Blvd, Kettering

The City of Kettering is in the process of removing and replacing ash trees near the Fraze Pavilion at the civic commons. Many of the dying trees are still standing. Lindsay Arway walks her dog Onyx through Lincoln Park where a few of the trees are almost bare. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

Nestled around the Fraze Pavillion, this master-planned outdoor space in Kettering offers the perfect picnic atmosphere with all the modern convenience of a professional venue. Check the schedule for the Fraze to see what events coordinate with your picnic plans -- or just bring a blanket and grab your meal from Ernie’s concession stand.

>> Here’s where to find the perfect food for your picnic

Carriage Hill MetroPark, 7800 Shull Rd, Huber Heights

Two donkeys at Carriage Hill Metropark graze in the pasture surrounded by a split rail fence and brilliant fall colors in October 2015. The picturesque farm park has been a popular place for family photos. TY GREENLEES / STAFF(Ty Greenlees)

Head to the Cedar Lake Shelter for a lake view, fishing (no license required) and nature trails. With a historic farm just a short walk down the road, there are plenty of great spots to scope out.

>> A few things to look forward to as the weather warms up in Dayton

Eastwood MetroPark, 1385 Harshman Rd, Dayton

The scene on Eastwood Lake at Eastwood MetroPark, Monday, May 30, 2016. JOHN BEDELL/STAFF

The River View Shelter overlooking the Mad River Run area at Eastwood is the place to be with great views overlooking the Mad River and new kayak and river play area. This is a spot close to a playground and other park amenities. The Thompson Shelter in the North Park of Englewood MetroPark also provides an excellent picnic experience. There is a wonderful view from the shelter and the area includes fishing and water access as well as opportunities for wildlife observation. A picnic at Patty Shelter is close enough to let the kids play in the nature play area, and then head out on a short hike ½ mile hike along the purple trail to check out Patty Falls.

>> The best hidden playgrounds in the Miami Valley

Germantown MetroPark, 7101 Conservancy Rd, Germantown

Conservation Manager Michael Enright of Five Rivers MetroParks walks along the field of the current farmland that will be transformed into a prairie that will provide the food and nesting sites necessary for pollinators’ survival. Many of the plants will be milkweed, which is critical to monarchs since it’s the only plant on which they lay their eggs. The project is funded by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Clean Ohio Green Space Conservation Fund. Protecting the dwindling monarch population is a priority for Fish & Wildlife, which is determining if monarchs should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. JIM WITMER/STAFF(Jim Witmer)

Head south of the Germantown Dam on the opposite side of the Creek from the main Dam Parking area. While you are setting up the picnic, let the kids hunt for fossils and splash in the water below the dam as long as water levels are low. Stone imprints from the Ordovician time period such as prehistoric snails, trilobites, and squid-like creatures with hard shells can all be found by the inquisitive and careful explorer.

>> Check out this hidden gem nature preserve you may not know about

Hills & Dales MetroPark, 2655 S Patterson Blvd, Kettering

Hills and Dales offers great picnic amenities, especially for large groups. (Source: Five Rivers MetroParks)

The Paw Paw Shelter has an elegant Adirondack design, fireplace, electricity and ADA flush toilets. An alcohol permit can be purchased. This is a good spot for larger groups (it seats up to 100).

>> Go camping in a MetroPark this summer

Possum Creek MetroPark, 4790 Frytown Rd, Dayton

Animals graze in fields at the farm at Possum Creek MetroPark. Possum Creek MetroPark Edible Farm is striving to become a leader in promoting small-scale food raising for the local community. LISA POWELL / STAFF(Staff Writer)

Follow the purple trail through the enchanted Argonne Forest where remnants of a once-vibrant entertainment center is now currently intermingled with moss, vines and old trees. Stop at the ballroom dance floor, spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch. There’s also a Hickory Shelter with an Argonne Lake view, fishing (no license required), hiking trails and a smaller-more intimate shelter.

>> The top places to go hiking in and around Dayton 

Taylorsville MetroPark, 2000 US-40, Vandalia

courtesy of: daytonwanderingdotcom.files.wordpress.com

There is a small remote picnic area about 1.25 miles north of the parking lot located at 2005 U.S. Rte. 40. The picnic spot is located at the remnants of the village of Tadmore, which was once the busiest crossroads in Montgomery County. The village was situated at the intersection of The Miami-Erie Canal, the National Road, the Dayton Michigan Railroad and the Great Miami River. Hike or bike the 1.25 miles on the Great Miami Recreational Trail, which is relatively flat and mostly shaded. If you are looking for a slightly more adventurous walk, you can walk along the tow path trail that parallels the bikeway. There’s also the CCC Shelter, featuring a rustic, secluded atmosphere, stone fireplace located near hiking trails.

>> Here’s everything you need to know about Dayton’s disc golf scene

Twin Creek MetroPark, 9688 Eby Rd, Germantown

Twin Creek can be a destination for a romantic picnic for two or a fun, inexpensive day out for the whole family. (Source: Five Rivers MetroParks)

The High View Shelter offers panoramic and scenic views of the Twin Valley, access to nature trails and fishing (no license required) at Dogwood Pond. It’s an intimate, location for a romantic picnic (seats 15 max.) with great views. Up for a little family adventure? Pack a picnic lunch, park at the High View parking lot and enjoy a hike along the 2.9-mile yellow loop, stopping at Dogwood Pond for lunch along the way.

>> 7 sights to see within driving distance of Dayton

Wegerzyn Garden MetroPark, 1301 E Siebenthaler Ave, Dayton

Barb Bayliff of Harrison Twp. took this photo of a row of crabapples trees, showy in the Easter colors of purple and pink on April 12th at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark in Dayton.
Spend the day touring the formal gardens or visiting the Children’s Discovery Garden at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark. Make a day of it by staying for a picnic in the area that is available to the south of the gardens. A reservable shelter is also available.

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7 badass planes at the Air Force Museum

Published: Monday, December 01, 2014 @ 1:10 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 17, 2018 @ 1:51 PM

Memphis Belle Revealed

The world’s largest military aviation museum and one of the best museum’s on aviation in the nation is right in our own backyard.

>>Photos: Restoring the Memphis Belle, one of America’s most legendary aircraft

>>Iconic Memphis Belle’s debut in Dayton: Everything you need to know

The National Museum of the United States Air Force  at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — one of Ohio’s most visited attractions — has more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles on display and draws more than a million visitors each year. 

It is the new home for the restored Memphis Belle, made famous in two Hollywood films.

There is everything from the Wright 1909 Flyer to the “Lady Bird Special,” which took Lady Bird and President Lyndon B. Johnson between Bergstrom Air Force Base near Austin, Texas and the family ranch near that state’s Johnson City. There are many mechanical marvels, including every fighter and bomber aircraft in the Air Force inventory today: F-22, F-16, F-15 and the B-52, B-1 and B-2 bombers.

Needless to say, it is really hard to see everything on the 17 acres filled with documents, aircraft, engines, uniforms and other artifacts. You’ll find history lessons full of triumph and tragedy with every step. Though it's possible to take a virtual tour, we recommend taking an actual visit.

>>PHOTOS: Crowd welcomes the iconic Memphis Belle to its NEW exhibit at the Air Force Museum

The word “best” is subjective, but with the help of Cox Ohio Military and Veteran Affairs reporter Barrie Barber, we’ve compiled a list of 7 can’t miss planes in the fascinating collection— including a brand new addition: the legendary Memphis Belle.

Admission to the museum is free, but some planes are in the limited-access Presidential and Research & Development Galleries, which visitors have to sign up to gain access to

>>‘It took my breath away’: Memphis Belle unveiled at AF museum

✈️B-17 Memphis Belle

Why is rates: Seventy-five years to the day the B-17 Memphis Belle finished its final mission over Europe, the iconic World War II bomber that starred in two Hollywood films made its public debut at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The Memphis Belle gained fame as the first U.S. heavy bomber to fly 25 perilous missions over Europe and return to the United States in World War II.

>>Memphis Belle visited Dayton on “26th mission”

The Memphis Belle was unveiled at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday, May 16.(Michael Burianek)

✈️NORTH AMERICAN XB-70 VALKYRIE

Why it rates: It is an odd speed demon. This 534,700 pound plane is considered one of the world’s most exotic, drawing interest from around the globe. It can fly three times the speed of sound. Only two of the XB-70 planes were ever made. The second crashed following a mid-air collision in 1965. The first one was used for research from Sept. 21, 1964 until it was flown to the museum Feb. 4, 1969, where it's on display today.

The North American XB-70 Vakyrie was rolled into the new fourth building of the National Museum of the United States Air Force on Tuesday, October 27.(Ty Greenless)

✈️NORTH AMERICAN X-15A-2

Why it rates: It trained our spacemen. Planes in the X-15 flight played a big role in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects. The rocket achieved Mach 6.7 and as Barry said, was the aircraft moonwalker Neil Armstrong cut his teeth on.

NORTH AMERICAN X-15A-2. Why it is important: Planes in the X-15 flight played a big role in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo projects. The rocket achieved Mach 6.7 and as Barry said, was the aircraft moon walker Neil Armstrong "cut his teeth on" before he becoming an astronaut.(U.S. Air Force)

✈️AVRO CANADA VZ-9AV AVROCAR

Why it rates: It's shaped like a flying saucer, which, come on — what's cooler than that? The craft was developed as a “supersonic, vertical takeoff and landing fighter-bomber,” but there is no chance the Avrocar will blast anyone to another galaxy. It never got more than three feet from the Earth and its top speed was 35 mph. Blame Canada for this one.

The Avro Canada VZ-9AV Avrocar is as close to a flying saucer that any aircraft gets in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force fourth building. The circular flying wing was built with three turbine engines exhaust driving a central circular turborotor. The Avrocar did fly, but became almost uncontrollable when it left the cushioning ground effect air just a few feet high.(Ty Greenlees)

✈️BOEING VC-137C SAM 26000
Why it rates: They don’t call it Air Force One for nothing. Built in 1962, the plane known as “SAM 26000” served eight presidents over three decades — Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Clinton. The plane flew Kennedy to Berlin in 1963. Months later, it flew the assassinated president’s body from Dallas to Washington. Johnson was sworn in as president during that tragic flight.

BOEING VC-137C SAM 26000: Why it is important:: Built in 1962, the plane known as "SAM 26000" and called "Air Force One" served eight presidents.(U.S. Air Force)

✈️LOCKHEED SR-71A

Why it rates: This baby got the job done and did it fast. The needle-shaped SR-71A spy plane is as fast as they come. Although it is now retired, the aircraft known as “Blackbird” remained the world’s fastest and highest-flying operational aircraft. The SR-71 set two world records for its class in 1976 —the speed record of 2,193.167 mph and altitude record of 85,068.997 feet.

LOCKHEED SR-71A: Why it is important: The needle-shaped SR-71A spy plane is as fast as they come.(U.S. Air Force)

✈️BOEING B-29 SUPERFORTRESS

Why it rates: It dropped the bomb. Called Bockscar, the museum’s B-29, famously dropped the “Fat Man” atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan on Aug. 9, 1945. An estimated 50,000 people died, according to the BBC. About 40,000 people died instantly. As many as 135,000 people died as the result of the atomic attack against Hiroshima three days earlier.

>> Don’t miss these 5 Air Force Museum exhibits when you go see Memphis Belle

BOEING B-29 SUPERFORTRESS Why is it important: Called Bockscar, the museum's B-29, famously dropped the "Fat Man" atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan on Aug. 9, 1945. An estimated 50,000 people died, according to the BBC. About 40,000 people died instantly As many as 135,000 people died as the result of the atomic attack against Hiroshima three days earlier.(U.S. Air Force)

Do you have a favorite plane? Tell us about it in the comments.

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