Strategic Air Command (SAC) Museum, Omaha

USA Omaha sac museum SR-71 Blackbird spy plane
Just inside the door of the SAC Museum is the famous SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, the fastest plane ever flown. In fact it could fly so high and so fast that Russian anti-aircraft missiles couldn't reach it. The Air Force didn't acknowledge its existence until shortly before it was retired. Its mission is now accomplished with spy satellites.

Like I mentioned in my last post, I'm a geek when it comes to airplanes.

And, believe it or not, Omaha is one of the best places to be a plane geek. At least if you like the planes (mostly) of the Cold War. Offutt Air Force base, just south of Omaha, was the headquarters of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) until 1992 when it was phased out in favor of a more modern view of our conflict with global Communism.

Offutt was a huge presence in the Omaha area, not only because of its ranking as the number one target in case of nuclear attack. The military shadow over Omaha was palpable. Air Force personnel were everywhere. I had a pretty real connection because my freshman high school locker mate's father was the Commandant of the base, and several other classmate's fathers were stationed there.

But, as US deterrent strategy moved in another direction from having fleets of bombers poised to send toward the Soviet Union, SAC became less important to our overall defense, and less important to Omaha.

Probably because of its proximity, SAC established the museum west of Omaha kind of as a monument to itself. It houses an example of every bomber, and lots of fighters and other functionary planes, from World War II up to the most modern B-1. There are also various missiles standing in front of the building. Missiles that used to be armed with nuclear weapons.

So, doomsday dread aside, the Museum is a fascinating way to spend an afternoon.

It costs $12 for an adult, and there are small discounts for veterans, seniors, and children. It's worth it, I think. My only complaint is that they have absolutely crammed the two hangers with too many huge aircraft. I'd like it a lot better if they had more room to spread things out a bit, so you could really get a look at the planes and get a sense of how big they really are. It still amazes me that these things could fly.

USA SAC Museum Omaha missiles 2
A few examples of the American missile arsenal greet you as you approach the SAC Museum entrance. There are still a lot of their successors in silos on the Northern Great Plains in Nebraska, North and South Dakota. Just in case.
USA SAC Museum Omaha U2
The U-2 spy plane like the one shot down over Russia, which led to one of the most tense crises of the Cold War. Below it is a B-17 bomber, the workhorse of the bombing of Germany in World War II. Also crammed in to the SAC Museum are a B-52, a B-36 (the biggest bomber ever built) and various smaller fighters.
USA SAC Museum B-58 bomber
The B-58 Hustler bomber was the first supersonic bomber in the SAC arsenal. It was, for a while, the first line of our nuclear arsenal. It was the plane featured in the apocalyptic film, Failsafe, in which bombers were accidentally sent against the Soviet Union.
USA sac museum KC-97
Among all the sleek warplanes in the SAC Museum are a few clunky transports, which are beautiful in their own way. Like this KC-97. The KC-97 was used both as a mid air refueling plane and an equipment transport. It was retired in the mid 1970s.
USA Omaha sac museum B-1
The B-1 bomber wasn't manufactured for very long. But it is still in service as a conventional bomber. For some reason, the Air Force (or President Carter and Congress) didn't like it, so only a few were built. One of them is parked on the Nebraska prairie on the drive up to the SAC Museum. I'd like to know how they got it there. My guess is some hell of a big truck.
USA Omaha sac museum b-52 nose
The nose of a well used B-52, the longest serving bomber in the American arsenal. It entered service in 1955 and is still flying today.

We visited the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum outside Omaha, Nebraska as part of our tour of Nebraska sponsored by AmericInn Hotels.

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4 thoughts on “Strategic Air Command (SAC) Museum, Omaha”

  1. Tom – small tech issue. The B-1 isn’t a stealth a/c. The stealth bomber is the B-2. The reason only 100 B-1s were built was a combination of politics and advancing technology. Carter ran on a platform of cancelling the B-1, which he did. By the time Reagan got into office, the design was almost 12 yrs old, and advances in Soviet missiles and look down radar made manned penetrating bombers vulnerable. So the B-1 was intended as a interim solution until the Advanced Technology Bomber (which ultimately became the B-2) could be delivered. That’s why today, the B-1 has only a conventional role.

    Reply
    • Scott, thanks so much for the info and correction. I once remembered that Carter killed the B-1, but, in my advancing age, had forgotten it. Are B-1s still flying?

      Reply
  2. This looks really, really cool. My problem is I live in Sweden, so it might be a while before I get to see this in real life. Great pictures though ;-)

    Reply

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