U.S. Army Aviation Museum
31º 19′ 27″ N / 85º 42′ 46″ W
This museum is wonderfully done and a joy to visit. Although not remotely sited, it is also not within or near a major city, this makes a special opportunity since it is not expected to be filled with visitors. So, why is it located at one end of Daleville AL in Fort Rucker? Simply put, because this is where the U. S Army first trains its aviators and then sends them to Fort Stuart for advanced helicopter training or to stay for fixed wing or heavy lift helicopter training.
There is no food or drink (except for water) at the museum so make plans for eating in Daleville or, perhaps, plan to have a picnic in the shaded ground that adjoins the parking lot. The main building is cool as well as spacious but take care not to miss the static displays which surround the building, including the rear — an unusual occurrence I’ve seen elsewhere only at the U.S. Air Force Armament Museum. There is an upstairs which displays art as well as giving a view to the floor of both wings that make up the main building. Aircraft from pre WW I through the modern day are to be found here as well as a few full scale dioramas, which are all well done.
I visited on a Monday in April and I was greatly looking forward to having the museum largely to myself. Brag and the gods laugh! When I got there at 9:30am the large parking lot was more than half filled and people were meandering their way in to the museum. Remarkably, young girls were in dresses, boys were tidy, women were in heels and service personnel were in dress blues (the US Army’s most formal of attire). Making a long story short, an aviation class was having a graduation ceremony — with ranking officers and a brass band!
I was feeling a bit of frustration since I could see that my photography was getting substantially delayed, but I soon got over it since this was a unique insight into military protocol. Thankfully, I observed many things such as how the military is precise with how things are run, even with ceremonies, no ad libbing needed and no indecision as to what will be happening and when. It was impressive to witness and it reminds me of the maxim describing how an organized few can do what a multitudinous mass cannot. History and honor were both retold, and in the retelling to be carried on into the future. I guessed that it would all take about an hour but had no real idea since there was no announcement to read. I adjusted by taking photos in the early aviation wing, away from the ceremony in the main wing so that I would not be a distraction. Soon I finished with those and went to the second floor so that I could see the ceremony from the vantage of being above. I noticed within a few additional minutes, the forces of nature begin to make themselves known as some of the children who had been sitting politely for nearly 30 minutes started to be taken to the rear of the main display area so they could move about the large floor to burn off their energy. Yes, children can only be constrained for just so long 😉
Make no mistake, the museum should be visited for its displays, art and history preservation. This is a national caliber museum and there are less than a handful of museums which have serious helicopter exhibits — and the U.S. Army Aviation Museum is the best of them by far, in a class all by itself.
Note: many thanks to David Lord (see comments)