Historic planes damaged by apparent tornado at National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

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U.S. Air Force photo

A suspected tornado damaged buildings and aircraft at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, home to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The storm struck early Wednesday morning, prompting tornado warnings for the area. As the sun rose, officials discovered that Restoration Hangar 4 was damaged, along with one of the base entry gates and several other buildings.

The gate has since been restored to working condition, but other repairs will take longer.

"Our initial focus right now is on safety and damage assessment," said Col. Travis Pond, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander. "I can’t speak highly enough about our security forces, fire department and civil engineer airmen for their quick response and hard work to assess damage and determine a path forward for restoring operations as quickly as possible."


U.S. Air Force photo

Photos shared by the Air Force showed a number of glass-pane walls had been blown out of the damaged hangar, with pipes, insulation, and sections of roofing strewn about. An F-15 and other craft appeared to be inside the damaged building.

Several historic aircraft that were part of the museum’s restoration efforts, including a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and possibly a T-33 Shooting Star, were blown over by the storm. However, the craft had already suffered degradation from sitting on display in the elements for years.

There was no immediate word of any injuries.


U.S. Air Force photo

What is the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force?

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio is home to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and houses a number of historic aircraft and rockets.

Visitors can see everything from the B-17 ‘Memphis Belle’ to a giant XB-70 Valkyrie bomber and even an X-15 rocketplane and the famed SR-71 Blackbird. Less notable but perhaps most ironic is the Panavia Tornado GR1.

There are many other historic aircraft in the collection undergoing restoration at the base for display at the museum or elsewhere – ranging from World War I biplanes to modern fighter jets.

The base is named in honor of the Wright brothers, the Dayton-area residents who were the first to successfully build and fly a heavier-than-air plane.