The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force exhibits historical artifacts related to World War II and the legacy of the Mighty Eighth Air Force from 1942 to the present day. Exhibits are designed to demonstrate the courage and heroism of the Eighth Air Force.
Central to the permanent exhibits is a display of the B-17, the City of Savannah, which is currently undergoing a restoration project (while on public view) to bring it back to its full World War II glory. The plane originally operated between 1942 and 1945 and participated in several combat missions in Germany. The Prelude to WWII exhibit looks at post-World War I Germany, the use of propaganda, and the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. The Mission Experience demonstrates to visitors what it was like to fly bombing missions from a base in England. The Airman Down exhibit uses historical artifacts to recreate both a “safe house” and a prisoner of war camp. The Modern Eighth Air Force offers a glimpse into the role of the air force through the Cold War era to the present-day. There is also a permanent collection of aviation-related art, a curated selection of which is always on display, and a memorial garden honoring the fallen soldiers of the Mighty Eighth from World War II to the present day.
The museum includes the Roger A Freeman Mighty Eighth research facility, which is dedicated to studying and preserving the history of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. Collections of the research facility are limited to museum visitors, but one may access the full collection by submitting a research application at least one week in advance. Public collections include historical artifacts from World War II, a collection of leather bomber jackets hand-painted by members of the Air Force, and Medals of Honor awarded to WWII Veterans. The research arm of the museum includes a veteran’s database, an ongoing project that seeks to be the first complete registry of all veterans who fought for the Eighth Air Force in World War II.
The Eighth Air Force originated in Savannah, Georgia, in 1942, and it’s just a few minutes from here that the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force is located. The museum was founded by Major General Lewis E. Lyle (1967–2008). Major General Lyle began his service to his country in 1941 and is credited with 76 combat missions as the first pilot of a B-17 between 1942 and 1945, more than any other pilot. Lyle began planning for the museum in 1983 as a way to honor the members of the Eighth Air Force who lost their lives serving their country. In May of 1996 the museum opened to the public, and is currently home to over 90,000 square feet of exhibition and research space. Lyle was active as a board member and donor and frequently visited the museum until his passing in 2008. Today, he is remembered by the museum’s staff as a gentle and humble leader who gave generously.
Ongoing Programs & Education
For children, the museum offers several differently themed tours of the permanent exhibits, all of which include curriculum rooted in the Character Counts! Program. This program recognizes the Eighth Air Force’s ability to model positive character traits and be an ambassador in helping to develop those traits in others. Recent programs have included Doing Their Part: Girl Scouts in WWII, which educates young girls on the contributions of volunteers on the home front during the war, as well as the role of Rosie the Riveter and others, as well as The Science of Flight program, which introduces students to the science and math behind flight and the principles of aerodynamics. All group tours must be scheduled at least one month in advance.
Tours for adults are available for all permanent exhibits and may be self-guided or docent guided. The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth recommends allowing approximately 2 hours for either the guided or self-guided tours, although shorter guided tours may be arranged in advance.
Past & Future Exhibits
Rotating exhibits include curated selections from the permanent art collection and aircraft from the Mighty Eighth’s collection as well as from aviation museums across the United States. Currently on display in front of the museum are a F-4C Phantom from the permanent collection as well as a B-47 Stratojet on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
175 Bourne Avenue, Pooler, GA 31322, website, Phone: 912-748-8888
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