Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum – Ashland, Nebraska - Atlas Obscura

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Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum

Ashland, Nebraska

Once a slice of Cold War-era military history, this museum is finding its future in the star. 

Sponsored by Nebraska Tourism

When the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum hosted an opening day ceremony on a windy March day in 1967, no one expected that the event would be just as full of aviation excitement as the museum’s exhibits. To celebrate the opening of the museum, which at the time touted displays of vintage aircraft like World War II bombers and an X-15, a rocket-propelled craft that set speed and altitude records with its space-grazing heights, organizers got an Air Force captain to parachute into the ceremonies. But there was high wind that day, which blew Capt. Campbell off course and onto the roof of a neighboring house. When asked if it was his most unusual landing, Campbell replied, “I guess it was.” 

Today, there may not be parachuting Air Force captains, but even after 25 years, the spirit of the museum—one of celebrating the wonders of aviation’s history—is still there. Originally, the museum was designed as a space to house and display items and aircraft from the Strategic Air Command, a Department of Defense and Air Force Command that played a pivotal role in America’s combat history. But as time has gone on, the museum has been focused on looking ahead as much as it looks back. 

Visitors to the museum can expect to see the past, like the Avro Hawker Vulcan, a mid-century technological wonder that was part of Britain’s Royal Air Force, or the B-25 Mitchell, a World War II craft that could be converted into a gunship or be mounted with a cannon. 

The museum also celebrates  aviation’s present and future, especially space exploration. In 2023,  former astronaut and Nebraska native Clayton Anderson, became the museum’s president and CEO. As Anderson told Nebraska Public Media, “The fact that the young boy that dreamed of being an astronaut three miles from where (the museum) stands is now back…leading it — I think is important.” 

In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also hosts special exhibits, like the recent “Above and Beyond,” an interactive experience that lets visitors try their hand at piloting, and a hands-on exhibition celebrating the mechanical works of Leonardo da Vinci. They also host camps throughout the year that help young people discover the world of STEM.

Know Before You Go

Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., seven days a week except for holidays. The venue is accessible and electric scooters are available to rent for $9.00 and push wheelchairs are available for free. On-sight parking is available

This post is sponsored by Nebraska Tourism. Click here to learn more.

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