Millville NJ Aviation Museum
Preserves Local History
New Jersey is home to a number of excellent aviation museums and, while on one of our South Jersey road trips, my family and I recently had the opportunity to visit one of them – the Millville Army Air Field Museum.
The Millville Army Air Field was dedicated in 1941 as “America’s First Defense Airport.” Ten thousand men and women served here during World War II with 1,500 pilots receiving advanced gunnery training in P-47 Thunderbolt and P-40 Warhawk fighter planes. Fourteen pilots died here during training. Today, the original base headquarters building houses the museum which pay homage to all those who served and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
The Millville Army Air Field Museum houses thousands of WWII artifacts of local and national interest (as well as items from other periods of military history of local interest up to and including the recent Middle East conflict). Many items on display are those you would expect to see in an army aviation museum – you’ll find historic engines and airplane components such as the Pratt and Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engine, guns (including a swivel-mounted Browning M2 machine gun), flight suits, model airplanes, and much more. But at the Millville Army Air Field Museum you’ll also find personal items such as photographs, letters, and even a wedding dress. These items help visitors to really connect to those who served here and sacrificed on behalf of their country. There are displays dedicated to the role that Japanese Americans, African Americans (the Tuskegee Airmen), Native Americans (the Navajo Code Talkers), and women played in winning World War II.
One of the great things about the Millville Army Air Museum is that many of the displays are “hands-on”, making it an awesome place to take kids! My son particularly enjoyed getting his hands on the Browning M2! The staff and volunteers at the museum are also great with kids, patiently and enthusiastically engaging them. When we arrived, each of my sons were given the “card” (like a baseball card) for a particular soldier that they could seek out in the museum and learn more about. It really helped to drive home the fact that these were real people who had families, peace time jobs, hobbies, and – for many – a close connection with this area of New Jersey.
Behind the main building, a rare fully-operational Link Trainer original to the Millville Air Field is on display. The Link Trainer was used to train pilots to fly in the dark and very few operational ones exist around the world today, making this artifact a “must see” during your visit. Outdoors, visitors can view a Douglas A-4F Skyhawk, a Short C-23 Sherpa, and ground vehicles such as an Army ambulance and an original Millville Army Air Field rescue/crash fire truck.
The Millville Army Air Field Museum also conducts programs and trips and hosts a semi-annual Wheels and Wings Air Show. The next air show will be in May of 2017 and will feature the United States Navy Blue Angels as headliners. This will be the only appearance by the Blue Angels in New Jersey for 2017 (we will definitely be heading back to Millville for that show)!
The Millville Army Air Field Museum is located adjacent to the Millville Municipal Airport at 1 Leddon Street in Millville, NJ. Admission is free, but donations are very much appreciated. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. p47millville.org