Air Force museum in Ohio to close some galleries

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Entertainment,Travel

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Some popular galleries at the national Air Force museum, including one featuring President John F. Kennedy's Air Force One, will close next month due to federal budget cuts.

The presidential and research and development galleries at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton will be closed until further notice beginning May 1, museum Director and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jack Hudson said Tuesday.

The XB-70 Valkyrie is another popular exhibit to be affected, Hudson said in a release.

There were only two of those planes conceived for the Strategic Air Command in the 1950s. The high-altitude bombers could fly three times the speed of sound and were intended as research aircraft for the advanced study of aerodynamics, propulsion and other subjects related to large supersonic aircraft, according to the museum.

The first XB-70 made its initial flight Sept. 21, 1964 and was flown to the museum in 1969. The second plane first flew on July 17, 1965, but crashed in June of 1966, after a midair collision.

Museum officials worked with the Air Force on making the reductions required by mandated cuts in federal spending.

"Our goal has been to make every effort to maintain museum operations to the maximum extent possible, and we hope to reopen these galleries as soon as possible," Hudson said.

The main museum complex will remain open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. The Air Force will pay utility costs six days a week, with the Air Force Museum Foundation Inc. covering those costs one day a week from May through September. The foundation normally supports museum growth and expansion and special events and programs.

"In these extraordinary budgetary circumstances, it only makes sense to assist with day-to-day operations as well," said Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Richard Reynolds, chairman of the foundation's board of managers.

Staff training and travel have been canceled, and non-emergency museum maintenance will be delayed, Hudson

Additional reductions from the mandated federal budget cuts include cancellation of some lectures and all summer aerospace camps and an end to tours of the museum's restoration area after April 26. That means the public will not be able to view restoration work on the famed Memphis Belle, at least in person.

Updates on restoration of the B-17 "Flying Fortress" can be viewed on the museum's website, museum spokesman Rob Bardua said.

The Memphis Belle flew 25 World War II bombing missions over occupied Europe in 1942-43 and is set to go on display at the museum after the restoration is complete.

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