Titusville — Look under the surface and you’ll find Brevard County is chock-full of historically significant establishments. Dedicated to the history of aviation, education, and warbird restoration, the Valiant Air Command (VAC) Warbird Museum is a treasure trove of discovery.
Conveniently nestled beside the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, the museum boasts a seemingly unassuming entrance revealing its glory as you go along.
Memorabilia Hall welcomes you first. Meticulously curated, the gallery showcases an impressive display of military and aeronautic relics dating back to 1908. Many of these items are particularly stirring such as World War I handwritten journals, pilot survival fishing kits (1950s), and a bright yellow survival radio dubbed the “Gibson Girl” due to its notable curves.
Learn a thing or two with items such as the 1920s airmail pilot, fur-lined coat, complete with a slanted pocket used to hold road maps because pilots of the era would navigate via IFR, meaning “I Follow Roads”.
Uncover Grumman’s longstanding foothold in the aerial industry while also embracing employees like the “Janes Who Made the Planes” (1940s), offering these ladies a generous wage, a free 10-week training course, childcare, and an errand service.
Become acquainted with Bernice Falk Haydu, a proud member of the WASPS – World War II Women’s Airforce Service Pilots - and a member of the VAC. Reverently smile upon Dr. Hiram Mann’s portrait, a Titusville resident until his passing in 2014, and member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, 332nd Fighter Group, known as the Red Tail Angels.
As you come up for air fortified in commemorative deference, The Warbird Museum reveals its Grand Dame: a 30,000 sq. ft. hangar proudly displaying an array of restored aircraft from World War I to Desert Storm.
The birds on display are a sight to behold, led by their flagship C-47A Skytrain, the “Tico Belle”. The Belle’s importance in World War II is renowned, having flown three missions over Normandy on D-Day. 75 years later she was again called for duty delivering much needed supplies to the Bahamian people after the devastating effects of Hurricane Dorian.
Take your time through the museum because there’s a lot to take in. More than 40 restored aircraft are on hand to marvel over, each bearing signage detailing both production statistics and usage.
You’ll certainly recognize the more notorious birds, with a nod to the Red Baron, MASH, and Top Gun - but most of these warbirds have been actively employed and are now retired in Titusville.
North of the Main Hangar is the Restoration Hangar where aircraft are restored to airworthy stature.
As you stroll south toward the Vietnam Hangar, the whir of buzzing planes in the air is particularly fitting, adding yet another dimension to the aerial atmosphere.
As expected, the venerable Vietnam Hangar is dedicated to those that served in Vietnam, along with the aircraft and military vehicles that aided them.
Some of the aircraft on display call VAC home, while others are privately owned or on loan from various locations like the National Naval Aviation Museum. Above all, these beauties hold both a place in history and in the heart of our nation.
Make sure to take advantage of complimentary guided tours. These tours are given by members of the aviation community like Curtis Taylor. Mr. Taylor’s palpable passion for the military and aviation is infectious. His extensive knowledge is icing on the Mess Hall cake.
“The Warbird Museum is most certainly a hidden jewel,” said Mr. Taylor.
Volunteers like Mr. Taylor are required for entry into certain areas of the facility, therefore, please refer to the information pamphlet available by the ticket counter or ask an attendant.
As a matter of fact, the VAC utilizes an all-volunteer staff. As such, continuous volunteer opportunities abound for the aerial admirer.
When your visit comes to an end make sure to stop by the gift shop. The exchange is teeming with household items, toys, and clothing centered around our Valiant history. You might be inspired to bring an old-fashioned Rosie the Riveter lunch box back home with you.
Entrenched in the skyward culture, the VAC holds several events throughout the year including monthly events such as the Fly-In/Drive-In Breakfast. For $12 per person enjoy a chef-prepared meal and museum entry is free.
Additionally, education being of pillar importance, the organization sponsors a free STEM program for children in middle school and high school, thus ensuring the future of American aeronautics.
Some of you may be familiar with the VAC’s world-famous airshow, postponed in 2020. Fortunately, it’s slated to return in 2021. The date is yet to be determined so feel free to check their website for updates.
The Valiant Air Command also offers memberships, flights, and event space usage, to name but a few. Bear in mind, some may be suspended due to the pandemic.
Please note, as a 501 (c)(3)non-profit museum, donations are always welcome and help facilitate the goals of the Valiant Air Command, which serve to “honor the past, educate the future, and preserve our heritage.”
Located mere minutes from the future of aeronautics at the Kennedy Space Center, a visit to the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum reminds us of the birth of flight, and the men and women whose love of aviation and dedication to our country paved the way.
The VAC is open Friday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm and adheres to social distancing guidelines. The museum is located at 6600 Tico Road, and admission is as follows: Adults $20, Senior/Military $18, Students (13-18) $10, and children 5-12 $5.00. For more information, the museum can be reached at 321-268-1941, or please visit them online at www.valiantaircommand.com.