The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Dayton's Dawn Patrol weekend fly-in

A boyhood dream was fulfilled last weekend at Dayton’s “Dawn Patrol” fly in weekend. Held on the grounds of the National Air Force Museum this event featured replicas of new fangled “flying machines” that took to the skies during the Great War. Also known as World War 1 (WW1) this horrific struggle ragged  from 1914-1918 and introduced modern technology like machine guns, poison gas, tanks and airplanes to the conflict.

As a youth in what is termed middle school today I pedaled the Schwinn 10 speed across town to the library and read volumes about these brave airmen, their flying fighting machines and the developing strategy and tactics of air power. 

And like many youngsters this fascination with planes faded away. When summoned to military service it was the Army’s Armor branch, more specifically Armored Cavalry for me. Spurs and sabers instead of the wild blue yonder!  My father, an Air Force vet, recalling my youthful love affair with airplanes asked why the Army?  “Tanks don’t fly Dad!” was my reply.

But my attraction to the aircraft and the stories of WW1 was renewed and reinvigorated by attending the Dawn Patrol experience.  FYI-Dawn Patrol was a WW1 phenomenon in which pilots got up extremely early usually 3 AMish ate a greasy English fried breakfast, and then went aloft 1/2 hour before sunrise to look for the Huns (Germans) on the ground or in the air. Today it still means getting an early start to the day. 

Meanwhile let’s get back to this air show experience. There were an ample number of historic aircraft both on static ground display and in the air.  An added attraction was plenty of WW1 re-enactors complete with their gear deployed in a tactical field environment.  Machine gun nests, communication posts and field hospitals were focal points of these living history demonstrations. 

The 2011 World War I Dawn Patrol Rendezvous featured vintage reproduction full scale and 7/8 scale aircraft such as the Nieuport 17, the Spad XIII and the Fokker DR-1 triplane. The Nieuport 17 was a plane used by the American volunteer squadron Lafayette Escadrille while the iconic Fokker DR-1 triplane was flown by the fable German ace Manfred von Richthofen aka the Red Baron.
We observed precision flying in the skies above the museum even a flour bombing competition. At times the planes made a strafing run complete with faux machine gun fire so we had to scramble for cover.  

A biennial event offered by the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and the Great War Aeroplanes Association the last WWI Dawn Patrol Rendezvous took place in the fall of 2009 and is scheduled to return again in 2013. 

Our morning was spent in the Dawn Patrol bivouac area and then the afternoon touring the collections of the National Museum of the United States Air Force that’s located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio. The mission of the museum is to preserve and present the United States Air Force story. Each year more than one million visitors come to the museum to learn about the mission, history and evolving capabilities of America's Air Force.
The museum is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum featuring more than 360 aerospace vehicles and missiles on display amid more than 17 acres of indoor exhibit space. Thousands of personal artifacts, photographs and documents further highlight the people and events that comprise the Air Force storyline, from the beginnings of military flight to today's war on terrorism.
Admission and parking for both the Dawn Patrol event and the AF museum were free. Typical festival fare food was available in the fly-in encampment area along with yummy refreshments in the museum’s Valkyrie Café. The cafe offers dining in an aviation themed environment with a selection of affordably priced soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza and more.  

It was an enjoyable, highly educational yet long day. Next time I’ll spend the night in the Dayton area with plans of taking in some of the attractions geared towards the Wright Brothers and their involvement in the early days of aviation. Besides aviation history there is a wealth of things to see and do here. 

So until we meet on the road, the plane, the motor coach, train or cruise ship …have a great one!