Travis AIr Force Base Heritage Center









(Go to Outdoor Exhibits)


Indoor Exhibits - The Early Years












The Early Years covers the history of flight from the earliest aviation legends through the beginning of World War I.

In Greek myth the great inventor Daedalus and his son, Icarus, escaped from imprisonment on the island of Crete by making wings of feathers held together with wax.  The flight was successful until Icarus, ignoring his father's warning, flew too high and too close to the sun.  Man's fascination at watching birds take flight and his desire to join them started before Icarus and continued throughout history.

Man began to make more progress toward flight in 1670 when Francesco Lana de Terzi, an Italian Jesuit, proposed one of the first lighter-than-air vehicles.  Then a century later the brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier applied the same principles to create the first hot air balloon.

As exciting as the discovery of lighter-than-air flight was, it didn't seem to offer the speed or maneuverability that man envied so much in birds.  Early designers were hampered by the lack of a way to power their machines.

Finally as the 20th century dawned, men all over the world worked endless hours on their dreams hoping to be the first to succeed in building a powered flying machine.

We are pleased to salute those “daring young men in their flying machines.”

The Army's first airplane at Fort Myers 1909
Fort Myers, Virginia 1909

In 1909, the Wright Brothers sold the first airplane to the U.S. Army. The contract included training pilots. In the beginning, the primary role of the airplane in wartime was for observation. Before 1915, when Orville (Wilbur died in 1912) left the Wright Company, the company had sold a total of fourteen airplanes to the Army.

Go to the Wright Brothers exhibit



History of Travis AFB








Basic Trainers
     BT-13 “Valiant”
     T-37 Simulator
     F-100 Cockpit Trainer








Early Years
     Wright Brothers








World War I
     94th Aero Squadron
     Stars and Stripes








Inter War Years
     Spirit of St. Louis
     Cessna AT-17 Bobcat








World War II
     Flying Tigers
     “The Hump”
     Piper L-4 “Grasshopper”
     CG-4 Combat Glider
     Tuskegee Airmen
     Doolittle Raid
     “Fat Man” Nuclear Bomb








Cold War
     Berlin Airlift
     The “Candy Bomber”
     Candy Bomber Honored








Korean War
     Korean War Gallery
     Korean War: “In Field”
     Korean War: “On Base”
     Korean War Stories
     Truman’s Secret Visit
     Flying Cheetahs
     Rescue Mission
     SAC Air Crews
     Travis Crash
     Operation Starlift








Vietnam War
     Vietnam Exhibit
     The Nurses
     Bringing Them Home
     Operation Homecoming








Modern Flight
     Strategic Airlift
     C-141 “Starlifter”
     Lockheed C-5 “Galaxy”
     Aerial Refueling








Space Exploration
     Aerojet General XLR73
     Mercury Spacecraft
     Project Gemini








Humanitarian Missions
     Stinson L-5 “Sentinel”
     EMEDS Unit
     Operation Babylift








     AGM-28 Hound Dog Missile
     PB4Y-2 Bow Turret
     Engine: R-2600-13
     Nose Art
     Military Coins
     Military Uniform Collection












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