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Exiting my truck in the visitors parking lot adjacent to Ellsworth Air Force Base, I turned my head to the sky to see a sleek jet punctuating the early morning sky, nose pulled up as it ascended quickly from the runway. A moment later the sound of said jet reached my ears in a deafening rumble that shook deep within my chest. The sheer power the jet expended on its takeoff gave me pause to contemplate the engineering marvel such aircraft represented, and as the rumble began to fade and the jet vanished from sight, I brought my gaze back down to the building I had come to visit, the South Dakota Air and Space Museum
The museum, which is immediately outside the Ellsworth AFB, hosts a variety of jets, prop planes, helicopters, and rockets from various ages. Seeing these aircraft fly overhead is impressive enough, but being able to stand right beside them and admire their true size is amazing. I have to admit I’m a total sucker for aeronautics and flight design, and I spent the better part of an hour walking in-between planes before making my way inside the museum.
Inside, the museum is appropriately housed in two large hangars giving ample space for numerous historical displays, airplane parts and cross sections, and my personal favorite, a training room for the commanding officers in charge of arming and deploying the ICBM Minuteman Missiles.
I easily spent the entire morning wandering through the historical displays detailing the early days of flight and learning how Ellsworth AFB played an integral role in the United States Air Force. By the time I stepped out of the museum into the afternoon sunlight, there was a pair of jets coming in for a landing, once again making me look to the sky, and feel the thunderous force of flight.