Flyin’ High at the Air and Space Museum
Just outside the Ellsworth AFB sits the famous Air and Space Museum, where visitors can get up-close views of some of the fiercest planes ever.
The earth we walk on has so much history to tell, from the giant dinosaurs that roamed the prehistoric period, to the first humans and the nomadic tribesmen, to the hand-to-hand battles of some of the great wars and beyond.
This ground beneath our feet holds an abundance of historical facts and secrets, but who would have thought the air above us has its own story to tell?
The fighter jets from WWII have tales of fighting and defeat, from the weapons they fired to the missiles they dropped. Space exploration blasts off with the advent of capable aircraft that can take humans to where they never thought imaginable. Visitors can marvel at small and large aircraft alike, and they’ll be amazed at all the wonderful history the museum has to tell.
The B1B Lancer
The B1B Lancer is a bomber aircraft that was developed as a low-level penetrator with long range and high speeds for higher altitudes. It was first used in combat during Operation Desert Fox in 1998 and it served in Kosovo, also in 1998. Low level penetrators such as the B1B Lancer make use of mountainous terrain, hills, and valleys to avoid being spotted by enemy radar.
The Minuteman II
The Minuteman II is a missile that was completed in the year 1967. It was created to give fighter pilots more accuracy and a wider range of targets, and it came equipped with a penetration aids system to camouflage the warhead during reentry into enemy territory. The current version is the missile that replaced the Minuteman II, the Minuteman III.
For the little aviation enthusiasts, make sure to stop by the Kids Zone, a section of the museum specifically devoted to teaching kids about the history of the planes in a fun and interactive way. Children can get a closer look into the design and history of the aircraft at their level.
The Air and Space Museum has much more aircraft on display, including the Quickie (homemade aircraft), the F-101 Voodoo, the U-3 Blue Canoe. The only way to get a personal view at all the planes is to plan a trip, so come on down and have a look.
If someone told you a whole world of family fun was waiting for you just outside the Ellsworth Air Force Base, you’d probably think they were crazy. But alas, the South Dakota Air and Space Museum offers education and entertainment for everyone. Climb on board some of the military’s best fighter planes, and stroll the grounds to get an up-close look into some historical planes. The air above us is rife with stories, so keep your eyes and ears open to the carriers that have flown the skies.
Location & Hours
The South Dakota Air and Space Museum is located about 7 miles east of Rapid City off of I-90 at 2890 Rushmore Dr., Ellsworth AFB, SD. Museum admission is free for everyone, but the bus tour tickets range from $5.00 to $8.00. Peak season hours are from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm; off season hours are from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. For more information, visit the homepage here.