Air, Space & Air Stream

Posted by on June 27, 2017

Monday 6/26

Monday was another sight-seeing day.  If you haven’t figured it out yet we try to do the majority of our sight-seeing during the week…less crowds.  And we try to spread things out with a few days at home in between.  Especially since we’re here for a month…no need to cram everything into one week.  We usually have two days a week that we hit the sights…and that works good for us.

I made some breakfast sandwiches before we hit the road and I also packed a light lunch of cheese, sausage, crackers and watermelon to enjoy while we were out.

Armstrong Air & Space Museum

About 8:15 am we headed out in the truck…north, 62 miles to Wapakoneta, Ohio the home of the Armstrong Air & Space Museum.  Wapakoneta is the birthplace of Neil Armstrong…so what better place to erect a museum bearing his name?

We arrived at opening time (9:30 am), paid the $8.00 per person admission and got busy.  Not a big museum but interesting enough that it took us a little more than two hours to tour.  The complex is designed to look like a moon base so it’s pretty cool to walk up to.

Here Michael is doing what he does best…Crashing and Burning!

There are quite a few ‘hands on’ displays…our favorite!  Plus several simulators…Michael’s like a 53-year-old kid when it comes to those!  He would never have made a good shuttle pilot as he crashed every time trying to dock!

About half way through the museum there’s a theater that does a really good job of chronically the landing of the Apollo 11 crew onto the moon.  Lots of real news footage that neither Michael or I have ever seen since we were just 5 and 3 at the time.

The view from Kelly’s Kitchen

There are a bunch of picnic tables outside the entrance to the museum and we utilized one to enjoy lunch at Kelly’s Kitchen.  Michael normally hunts down the one with the most shade but this time he was freezing as it was not quite 70 degrees outside and the wind was a bit brisk.  Poor guy ate his lunch so fast I had barely taken three bites before he was done and up and standing in the sun!

Neil Armstrong’s boyhood home

After lunch we took a quick trip over to Benton Street to check out the Armstrong family home.  Neil Armstrong and his parents lived there starting in 1944.  I believe his parents still lived there when their son made his mark on the moon.

Max’s Dairy Bar

We passed by an ice cream place on the way to the house so on the way back we stopped and got a couple of cones…one scoop for me…two for Michael….except that apparently the first scoop doesn’t count…so we got two scoops for me…and three for Michael!  Yikes….that was a LOT of ice cream!

The one picture we were allowed to take in the factory

Air Stream does factory tours at 2:00 pm Monday through Friday and we had plans to take today’s tour so we drove 15 miles southwest to the town of Jackson Center where we found the Air Stream factory after taking a bit of a detour due to road construction.

We arrived with about ten minutes to spare , found a parking space and went inside the service center to wait for the start of the tour.   (Tour is free)

We started from the service center.  Our tour guide, now retired, started working for Air Stream in 1961 (before Michael or I were born!) and I assume he worked there until retirement. He was very knowledgeable and informative.

My only complaint would be that he spoke much too softly.  We had a group of about 35 and if you happened to be at the back of that group or even in the middle it was nearly impossible to hear him.  AND if we were in the factory with all of the noise going on it WAS impossible.

Behind the service center there are rows of Air Stream units lined up waiting to be serviced…they’re about five weeks behind in their service area.

Wally Byam’s gold-plated Air Stream in for restoration

There were current units as well as much older units needing service.  One unit stood out though…rather than being silver it was gold.  Built in 1957, this was Wally Byam’s (Air Stream founder) personal unit.  In 1959 Wally and his wife took it to Africa on the famous ‘Capetown to Cairo tour’.

Our tour took us just about an hour and a half, snaking us through the factory, giving us a chance to watch the build process from beginning to end.  We were able to peek in windows and doors as workers did performed their various tasks inside and out.  Toward the end of the line we were even able to walk inside of one of the nearly completed units.  Very cool.

Our guide guesstimated that the smallest Air Streams (16 foot) sell for about $50,000 while the largest (33 foot) are in the $150,000 range. Wowza!

Back at the service center, we had the option to continue on across the street for a short tour of the plant that makes the Mercedes conversion van.  Of course, Michael wasn’t gonna turn that down.  Once again we walked in and around the assembly line while the employees (most of which were gone for the day) worked in the different areas.

Once again we were allowed to peak inside a couple of units and were even allowed to walk in one that was just about complete.  Very cool…but they’re small!

Good vittles right here

After our tours we headed south toward home but stopped for dinner in Tipp City.  I’d had dinner plans for  another restaurant in the area but found out that it had been damaged by a tornado back in May and wasn’t due to reopen until the next day…so thankfully our Heartland friend, Mark had recommended Hickory River Smokehouse.  We’ll try the other restaurant another time.

We both ordered our usual BBQ joint meals….ribs for me…brisket & ribs for Michael.  Sides:  mac & cheese and cole slaw for Michael…mac & cheese and green beans for me.  Each meal came with a ‘hunk’ of corn bread too.  We were both very happy with our meals and would definitely go back.  Not often that we found good BBQ up north…but they have it!

One of four mysterious Doomsday planes

After a long day we were ready to be home.  As we drove by the airfield on base we noticed a big plane on the runway.  It was easy to spot as there aren’t normally many aircraft hanging around other than the normal 4 or 5 Air Force      C-17s parked on the tarmac.

What we also noticed was that ‘United States of America’ was emblazoned on the side of the airplane.  At first we thought it might be Air Force One…but a quick Google search threw that theory out the window.

We continued on our way home and once home did some more research and Michael figured out that it was actually one of four ‘Doomsday’ planes that follow the president around in case of a nuclear attack.  Pretty interesting stuff.









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