After our delicious lunch at Menches Brothers, we headed to the MAPS Air Museum in North Canton. MAPS stands for Military Aviation Preservation Society, which is quite a mouthful. Ohio has two other good air museums, The National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton and the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta. Both of these are excellent museums so I thought the MAPS museum was probably some small, local museum with just a few exhibits. I was wrong.
The MAPS Air Museum was started in 1990 by a group of men who were interested in restoring and preserving military aircraft. They were able to acquire the former Air National Guard buildings at the Canton-Akron Airport. Then they started buying old military aircraft. Very few of the aircraft were in working order when they arrived at the museum, but the men who volunteer at MAPS are passionate about restoration. As each aircraft came in, they carefully and lovingly restored it to proper working order.
Today MAPS Air Museum owns or cares for (on loan) over 50 aircraft. They have a wonderful chart that tells which aircraft are on display and which ones are being restored. Each aircraft has a Crew Chief that is in charge of the restoration and they pay attention to every detail. Even after the aircraft is on display, they are still working on it to maintain it in working order. It was very exciting to think that any one of these aircraft could take off at any moment.
In addition to the work on the aircraft, the MAPS Air Museum has many interesting displays. There is a Medal of Honor room and a Gallery of Heroes. Both contain many artifacts donated by local families and servicemen. We were especially impressed by the Medic Tent. This tent and the items in it have been collected by one man who was there the day we visited. He showed us photographs of his time as a Medic in Vietnam. The tent was set up like a field hospital and I was amazed at all the items he had collected over the years. It was fascinating to hear him describe how the tent and other medical items were transported and set up.
We ran out of energy before we ran out of museum. I had expected something small and easy to see in an hour. After two hours we decided to pack it in, although we could have stayed for twice the amount of time. We talked to three of the men volunteering at MAPS and saw many others working and donating their time. It is clear that all of the men are passionate about what they are doing.
If you have a chance, I encourage you to check out the MAPS Air Museum in North Canton. It is a fascinating glimpse into military history. Even more impressive are the volunteers who work so hard to preserve these beautiful aircraft. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 to 4:30 and Sunday from 11:30 to 4. Admission is $15 per adult with senior and veteran discounts. WWII and Korean vets are free.