MAPS Air Museum
The MAPS Air Museum (MAPS = Military Aviation Preservation Society) is located just south of Akron in North Canton, Ohio.
The Military Aircraft Preservation Society museum grounds consist of:
- Gift shop and small exhibit area
- Main hangar with F-14 Tomcat, F-4 Phantom, MiG-17, F-86, A-7E Corsair II, Grumman S-2 Tracker, Skymaster, Navion, and weapons
- Rear display room with a variety exhibits of personally donated artifacts from WWI right up to present day
- Outdoor area with the Grumman F-11 Tiger, Beechcraft C-45, a Douglas C-47 and other restoration candidates
- Restoration hangar with a WWII B-26 Marauder, F-100 Super Sabre, Fairchild Cornell and other aircraft
The most visually outstanding aircraft in their collection is their A-7E Corsair II. The restoration work is excellent and the paint work is just outstanding. The F-86D Sabre Dog was in the process of being restored when I visited and the care and attention to detail performed by the restoration crew was very impressive. The F-86's right side was yet unfinished, but the left side was highly polished with crisp insignia and graphics. The Grumman S-2F Tracker was one of the best I've seen in a museum and I believe it is airworthy. Also airworthy were the L-17 Navion and Cessna O-2 Mixmaster (Skymaster). One of my personal favorites in their collection is their Soviet MiG-17 jet fighter. I think it is such a hot looking aircraft, and it is also a terrific example of the wonders these guys can perform with a very rough looking airframe. Have a look at the MiG-17's photos on these pages, then visit the MAPS Air Museum's website and have a look at what that Soviet jet fighter looked like when they got it. What these guys have accomplished with the MiG-17's airframe is nothing short of amazing.
The most unusual exhibit is the gondola from the airship Spirit of Akron, a Goodyear built blimp which crashed in 1999. Many of us have seen a Goodyear Blimp cruising through the sky at some point in our lives, but few have the opportunity or bucks to get onboard. You can actually get inside this Goodyear Blimp gondola and get a feel for the layout of an airship gondola. It is quite spacious by airplane standards.
Another odd gem on display is a radio controlled Sherman tank. While RC Sherman tanks are not that rare, this one has a hand made V-8 engine. Designing and machining your own V-8 block and crankshaft is no simple task. My pictures don't do it justice with the glass reflections. I believe the entire tank is scratch built and close to 3 feet long.
Don't miss the rear display room. There are cases and cases of military artifacts running from WWI right up to the Persian Gulf conflicts. Many were donated by veterans and their families, so some things were somewhat of a mystery to the MAPS museum staff. The most interesting display to me was the WWII POW display of Lt. Buzz Sewell, a B-26 Bombardier shot down and captured by the Germans and interred in
Stalag Luft III, and later
Stalag Luft III in Sagan, Germany. There are photos (some taken secretly in POW camps), personal artifacts, and pages of a diary Lt. Sewell kept hidden in his socks.
The MAPS Air Museum is about 20 minutes south of Akron, OH a short distance from Rt-77 on the outskirts of the Akron-Canton Regional Airport. There is no food on site other than vending machine drinks, but there were several fast food places a short drive down 241. The museum has a small gift shop, with some very good looking airplane and helicopter T-shirt designs. Parking is free and close to the entrance and all of the exhibits are on one level making the museum very handicap accessible. The staff were friendly and very talkative and quick to fill you in on details and history of their aircraft and exhibits. For hours and directions, visit the MAPS Air Museum's Website.
If you're in the area pay these guys a visit. They've got a great collection of aircraft and go out of their way to make you feel welcome. The volunteers are proud of their work and eager to show you around. If you live in the area, offer to volunteer. The museum has several very interesting and historically significant airplanes needing restoration and the restoration crew needs the extra hands. You'll be working with a good group of guys and will have a chance to get very up close and personal with some very historic military airplanes.