USAF Museum Struck By Tornado: Buildings, Aircraft Damaged


A probable tornado caused serious damage to buildings and some aircraft at the National Museum of the Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio early this morning. At approximately 4:42 a.m., the National Weather Service observed a severe thunderstorm with strong rotation over the Air Force Base, reporting, “A tornado is occurring or imminent.”

Among other buildings on the base, the museum’s Hangar 4 restoration facility and Gate 22B were damaged, according to the Air Force. No injuries were reported.

Wright-Patterson released photos showing damage to hangars and some aircraft. The base’s 88th Civil Engineer Group joined first responders and Air Force safety personnel in assessing damage. Col. Travis Pond, 88th Air Base Wing commander, said, “Our initial assessment from this morning’s storm is the damage is isolated to the southern side of Area B. Our initial focus right now is on safety and damage assessment.”

The NWS confirmed other tornadoes touched down nearby the Air Force base at 4:37 a.m., 4;54 a.m., 4:56 a.m., and 5:01 a.m. Two-inch hailstones also caused damage to buildings, barns and other property.

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. Aw man! That’s a shame. I hope that the damage to the exhibition planes is not too serious. The AF museum should be on every pilot’s bucket list. An exceptional place to spend a day or two.

  2. Fortunately, the main museum was not affected and the hangars that were damaged were across the base where restorations of aircraft take place. Also, no museum aircraft on display were damaged and only an F104 was damaged that was heading to the scrap yard. This was reported in a news conference with the museum director and local channel 7 WHIO.

  3. Was just there with my grandson for the second time. He loves it. It takes a lot of time to go through that place.

  4. Air force is bringing in some Navy aircraft mechanics to fix the aircraft. USAF has no qualified mechanics except maybe civilian civil servants. That were in the Navy, USMC or the Army.

    • Maybe you can expand on what you mean by “USAF has no qualified mechanics…”, and where you get that information from. First, as others have stated, the main museum was not impacted, the damage was to the restoration hangars. I have seen pictures of the damage to the hangars inside, it is extensive. I get my information from a contact who works at the restoration facility. Second, all the museum pieces are no longer flightworthy, so I’m interested to know what “qualification” you refer to is needed. My contact, and others do have A&Ps and are also often former USAF maintenance personnel. I have been in these hangars several times, both with my local EAA 382 chapter, and giving some recommendations on restoration of the Atlas ICBM, for which I did structural design at GD back in late 80’s. I also drive right by this damaged area on my way to work on base.

      The USAF may be bringing in outside help, as you allude to, but I doubt it has to do with qualifications. I could be wrong.

    • I’d say the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at the Udvar-Hazy Center, located at Dulles Airport, is a close second. It’s not as large but has so many historic aircraft, it’s just incredible. Enola Gay, the Boeing 367-80 (prototype of the 707), a Concorde and the Space Shuttle Discovery, just to name a few. They also have a number of unique aircraft you won’t find in other aviation museums.