Wings Over Topeka: Visiting the Combat Air Museum

My first trip in an aircraft was while I was in college, on the way back from Harrison, Arkansas.

Hiller OH-23A Raven, which I assume is the type used for the opening credits of M*A*S*H. At the Combat Air Museum.

A guy with what made me think of a Korean War helicopter from M*A*S*H was giving flights for $20. We went up a few hundred feet, circled around a bit, then landed.

It was one of the best $20 bills I’ve ever spent.

Like a lot of other kids my generation, I was fascinated by flying. But I never got a chance to be at the controls.

I still have a fascination for aviation. It’s a fascination that Vicki does not share, who when I had a spare couple of hours camping south of Topeka, Kansas, she stayed at the camper while I visited the Combat Air Museum just south of town.

It was a fun trip for me. These planes are beautiful, even the ones that are in pieces in the workshop hangar. 

And while I had doubts about climbing the steps with this bad hip to see the interior of a four-prop reconnaissance plane used in the Cold War, I was glad I made the effort. It’s a great blend of aviation, electronics and history.

Snoopy finally gets the Red Baron in his sights … at the Combat Air Museum, Topeka, Kansas. Wooden Doghouse (Snoopy), Fokker Dr. 1 Dreidecker (von Richthofen)

The display of a 75% scale replica of a Fokker triplane (think Baron von Richthofen) being pursued by a toy Snoopy doll on his doghouse/Sopwith Camel was delightful

Before she was Marilyn Monroe, Norma Jeane worked at the Radioplane Corporation, which made drones for the U.S. military. This is at the Combat Air Museum.
This is the engine from a Radioplane drone at the Combat Air Museum.

Same thing for the photos of Marilyn Monroe in her early career in the defense industry, working on engines for an early line of drones.

It’s mostly photos, but if you’re into old planes, I think you’ll enjoy them.

Fuselage nose art is always fun. Not a lot of examples at the museum, but here are three.

I was surprised at how fascinating the inside of the early AWACS plane was for me. I tried to imagine myself being on the crew of this plane, which would have been pretty crowded with all the air crew and techs on board.

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