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Today is the Museum of Aviation‘s 30th anniversary. The museum opened to the public on Friday, 9 November 1984. There were about 20 aircraft on display in an open field and another 20 were in various stages of restoration. The Heritage Building—the museum’s first building—housed exhibits as well as offices, artifact storage, and a gift shop. The opening was the culmination of years of planning and preparation that began in the late 1970s.

Aerial view of the museum grounds looking south during the summer of 1984. The Heritage Building—a collection of “Butler” buildings from Dobbins Air Force Base—is being assembled at the upper left.

Aerial view of the museum grounds looking south during the summer of 1984. The Heritage Building—a collection of “Butler” buildings from Dobbins Air Force Base—is being assembled at the upper left.

On opening day, Herb Eschen, the project officer overseeing the museum, said “The only reason we made it today is because of the outstanding effort of literally thousands of people. I think they’ve done an excellent job.”

Yes, they did an excellent job, and look at what has come of their pioneering efforts! Thirty years later, the Museum of Aviation has grown to become the second largest museum in the United States Air Force and the fourth most visited museum in the Department of Defense. Since opening, nearly 13 million people have visited.

Aerial view of the museum in May 2008.

Aerial view of the museum in May 2008.

The museum is a lot of things to a lot of people. It is a place of education and inspiration. It is a place to find real heroes, experience wonder and excitement, feel gratitude for service and sacrifice, learn about Air Force roles and missions, and participate in superb education programs. The museum is a gathering place where civilian and military personnel from the community can associate and work together. The museum is a place that honors our veterans and their families and reminds our Airmen of their legendary Air Force heritage.

What does the Museum of Aviation mean to you? How has the museum made a positive difference in your life? How has the museum inspired and informed you? What is your favorite memory of the museum?

We want to hear from you! During the next 30 days, please e-mail your thoughts and memories to museumofaviation30th@gmail.com Photos and artwork are welcome. We will share selections from the submissions we receive on the museum’s website.