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You told us: Top 5 spots for plane geeks

By Thom Patterson, CNN
June 15, 2012 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Drawing more than a half-million visitors each year, <a href='http://www.airventure.org/' target='_blank'>the world-famous Oshkosh, Wisconsin, airshow</a> sounds like Woodstock for aviation geeks. Except more organized and louder. Drawing more than a half-million visitors each year, the world-famous Oshkosh, Wisconsin, airshow sounds like Woodstock for aviation geeks. Except more organized and louder.
HIDE CAPTION
EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
Team RV
Warbirds
San Diego Air & Space Museum
Horten 229 V3 Flying Wing
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum
Howard Hughes in the cockpit
Troop transport
Inside the hull
Grissom Air Museum
George W. Bush's TF-102A Delta Dagger
Film star: 'Passionate Paulette' B-25J bomber
National Museum of the USAF
Lyndon Johnson sworn in as president
McDonnell XF-85 Goblin
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN commenters suggest spots for aviation enthusiasts
  • Indiana's Grissom Air Museum has planes flown by George W. Bush, Neil Armstrong
  • Oshkosh, Wisconsin, air show is not to be missed, say commenters
  • San Diego has first supersonic seaplane; Oregon has Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose

(CNN) -- It never fails, put out a list of favorite whatevers and it will ignite a firestorm of flaming opinions. What sparked the frenzy this time? A list of five cool destinations for airplane geeks and roto heads -- um, I mean aviation enthusiasts.

Honestly no list is ever going to satisfy this crowd. Everyone has their OWN list, as shown by CNN commenters who wrote questions like, "What about Oshkosh?" "Don't forget San Diego." "Hey, check out what they have at Oregon's Evergreen."

Their energy and excitement punched through the page, proof of the passion that powers aviation fans, including the closet geeks who fly under the radar.

Related story: These people really love to fly

Indiana

Some of the comments yielded the unexpected. About three hours southeast of Chicago, there's a big surprise in the tiny town of Peru, Indiana -- population 11,417.

CNN commenter lastdomino pointed out Grissom Air Museum as an "off-the beaten path gem."

Indeed you are correct, lastdomino!

This gem has three aircraft crown jewels:

--An F-102 variant trainer jet called the TF-102A that was flown by a young Air National Guardsman by the name of George W. Bush, according to museum officials.

--A sharp F-100C Super Sabre fighter plane that the museum says was formerly piloted by some guy named Neil Armstrong. Later, he went on to be the first man to walk on the moon.

--A World War II-era B-25J bomber named Passionate Paulette, which you may have already seen -- if you've ever watched the classic 1970 film "Catch-22."

"If you're ever close ... definitely worth the trip," lastdomino wrote.

The place where dead airplanes come back to life

Ohio

To the east of Indiana near Dayton, Ohio, lies the aviation museum that rivals the Smithsonian, and which some say surpasses it.

An avalanche of CNN comments raved about the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum because of its location at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

This hangar is mecca for all true believers in the First Church of Aircraft Worship.
CNN commenter Mark Swanson

Not to oversell it, but this place bills itself as "the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum."

CNN commenter Mark Swanson showed his enthusiasm when he wrote: "You need to get to the presidential exhibit hangar at the Air Force Museum in Dayton to see the cool stuff. We've been everywhere else, like Pima [Air & Space Museum] and AMARG, [aka The Boneyard], but this hangar is mecca for all true believers in the First Church of Aircraft Worship."

The star of the exhibit Swanson is referring to is a Boeing VC-137C called SAM (Special Air Mission) 26000.

It's safe to say this is one of the most historic aircraft in the world.

It's the jet that served as Air Force One for President Kennedy's 1963 trip to Cold War Berlin, where he made his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.

The historic jet where this famous photo was snapped is on display in Ohio.
The historic jet where this famous photo was snapped is on display in Ohio.

It's the aircraft where Lyndon Johnson took the presidential oath of office after Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

It's the plane that ferried President Nixon to Beijing in 1972 to open U.S.-Chinese relations, triggering events that still affect us.

Not enough White House for ya? This place also houses planes that flew Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.

Other aircraft include the downright weird XF-85 Goblin, a stubby little so-called "parasite fighter" developed to protect bombers after World War II.

Wisconsin

Commenter XR1138 clearly loves the famous airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. As a teen, XR watched aviation hall of famer Clarence "Bud" Anderson perform "the most incredible display of piloting skill and energy management that I have ever seen and probably will never see again."

Officially, it's called 2012 AirVenture Oshkosh. It started as a gathering of 150 people and a handful of airplanes in 1953 and has blown up as one of sport aviation's top-drawer events, attracting more than a half-million visitors each year, according to its website.

This year the airshow is set for July 23-29, and as usual, more than 10,000 spectacular aircraft from around the globe are expected to fly in for the Badger State's world-famous aerial celebration.

"I personally met ["miracle on the Hudson" pilot] Capt. Sully [Sullenberger], [legendary test pilot] Chuck Yeager, and [Apollo 13 commander] Jim Lovell at AirVenture 2011," posted commenter NoKidding111. "Hope all you fellow 'airplane geeks' can make it.  If you haven't been - you WILL NOT regret it."

California and Oregon

Two suggestions from CNN commenters were destinations on the West Coast.

San Diego Air & Space Museum boasts one of only five Convair YF2Y-1 Sea Darts ever produced.

What sets the Sea Dart apart? Waterskiis!

Billionaire Howard Hughes\' obsession, the Spruce Goose, lives in McMinnville, Oregon.
Billionaire Howard Hughes' obsession, the Spruce Goose, lives in McMinnville, Oregon.

This unusual figher jet was designed as the "first combat-type plane equipped with retractable hydro-skis, the first delta-winged seaplane and the first supersonic seaplane in the world," according to the museum.

In McMinnville, Oregon, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is the home of Howard Hughes' obsession -- that amazing wooden behemoth dubbed the Spruce Goose. It may be the most famous plane that never flew more than one minute. You can read more about it here.

What's on your aviation bucket list? Where would you like to go for a top-notch aviation thrill? Tell us in the comments section below.

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