Explore the past at Atterbury-Bakalar

 A picture of the F-4 Phantom displayed outside the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum. (Submitted photo)

A picture of the F-4 Phantom displayed outside the Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum. (Submitted photo)

Commentary by Jennifer Ingersoll


The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum is located on the former Bakalar Air Force Base and current Columbus Municipal Airport. Originally known as Atterbury Army Air Field when built in 1942, the base was renamed Bakalar and used for reservist training through 1970.  Both Atterbury and Bakalar were Hoosier war heroes. To preserve the rich past of the Base, the museum displays items of Army/Air Force history during the periods of WWII through Vietnam.

Exhibits include an F4C Phantom Jet, displayed outside the entrance as well as handcrafted 1/8 scale model aircraft some with a 15-foot wingspan. Meticulously created, all of the model planes either flew from the Air Base or by one of the museum volunteers. A barracks display shares the tight and sparse living quarters for the trainees, while the WWII glider pilot exhibit exposes the unbelievable sacrifices made by the brave men.

Other exhibits include the Tuskegee Airmen and a WWII jeep that on examination show the driver and passenger were literally sitting on the gas tank of the vehicle. There is an exhibit dedicated to a brave set of WWII pilots that did not receive recognition by the military. Known as the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots or WASPs, these women were not allowed to fly in combat, yet were often used for extremely dangerous missions, including test pilots.

The Air Museum is free admission and open from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., Tuesdays – Saturdays. A self-paced museum, guests can take their time to explore. But, to really know the history and understand the sacrifices taken, talk to one of the museum volunteers, many former pilots and servicemen. Allowing these volunteers to share their stories and experiences is perhaps the greatest way to acknowledge and respect the service and sacrifice of not only these men, but all our Veterans.

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