Visitors head to USAF museum first day it reopens

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force reopened Wednesday for the first time in three months with new protocols in place.

The museum closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Signs are posted throughout the museum to remind guests of the safety procedures in place. Guests will come through a new entrance located to the right of the traditional entrance.

“I’m expecting it’s mostly going to be regional visitors,” says David Tillotson, the director of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

Wednesday, guests came from all over the country.

The Vitous family was visiting from New York.

“I came here two years ago with my dad who’s a veteran,” says Jim Vitous, who was at the museum with his wife and two children.

“It was a place I always wanted to visit. I was former Air Force, and I love air planes,” says Richard Bissonnette, in town from Maine.

The steady stream of visitors were ready to follow new guidelines.

“It’s nice and big and open so we can social distance,” says Ashley Jacobs who drove from Loveland with her husband, John, and daughter, Ella.

“Even though we’re planning on a 25% capacity monitoring — for us, that’s 5,000 people,” says Tillotson. “Candidly, I’d be really excited if I had 5,000 people here in a day.”

Hand sanitizer is placed throughout the galleries, and masks required for all guests age 3 and older.

“Kind of an essential thing in our current time, but we’re looking forward to staying open,” Tillotson says of the mask requirement.

Tony Bates of Franklin and his grandson Hunter Cantrell were one of the first two people through the door.

“I’m fascinated by history,” states Cantrell. “Mostly the WWII part because that would be where my great grandfather was fighting.”

For some, it was their first time visiting.

“This is her first time ever. She’s you know. and all she does is talk about airplanes,” says John Jacobs.

“I want to see all kinds of planes and stuff,” says Willow Vitous.

While guided tours are not currently offered and some exhibits remain closed, most are just happy to walk off some pent up energy.

“I’m glad they opened it, and if these are the hoops we got to jump through, that’s fine,” says Bates.

For those who don’t feel comfortable venturing out just yet or for those who don’t want to wear a mask, the museum is offering virtual options.

The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

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