Airborne & Special Operations Museum
Fayetteville, North Carolina
The City of Fayetteville has played a vital role in America’s military history since becoming the first city out of dozens named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette, and purportedly the only one he every visited.
Today, it is probably best known as the home of Fort Bragg, one of the largest army installations in the country. It was the site of the second Parachute Test Platoon in 1941 and is the permanent home of the revered 82nd Airborne Division and the famed Golden Knights parachute team.
Motorcoach groups who visit Fort Bragg can tour the Airborne & Special Operations Museum, which opened in 2000 to honor and preserve the legendary feats of these elite troops. Outside its entrance is Iron Mike, a 16.5-foot-high statue dedicated to all paratroopers, past, present and future. Inside, the 5,000 square-foot, five-story-high open lobby area showcases a dramatic exhibit accented by natural light from the glass walls and surrounding windows. It features two fully deployed parachutes – a WWII era T-5 round chute and a modern MC-4 square chute, which together represent the development of airborne operations. A wall in the lobby is dedicated to the 77 individuals who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their actions while assigned to an airborne or special operations unit.
The museum’s main gallery is self-guided, with exhibits organized in chronological order, starting in 1940 with the conception of the U.S. Army Parachute Test Platoon and ending with today’s airborne and special operations units. Exhibits cover airborne and parachute operations during World War II; the Korean and Cold wars; Vietnam; and present-day peacekeeping and contingency actions.
The museum’s 235-seat Yarborough-Bank Theater puts tour groups in the center of the action, showing films throughout the day that highlight the U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations History, with free admission.
Two motion simulator experiences are available for more adventurous tour passengers. In one, a 24-seat viewing area moves as much as 18 degrees in concert with the film Army On the Move. It provides an extreme taste of what the U.S. Army’s finest are trained to do, including skiing with a Special Forces Team through snowy woods and covering a rooftop insertion from a helicopter gunship. The other simulator, Experience the Legend, takes passengers from World War II to modern day as part of prestigious airborne and special ops units as they “experience” some of their missions. Among them: flying into Normandy on D-Day with the 101st Screaming Eagles, and traveling in Southwest Kabul through a hot bed of action with the Ranger Regiment.
Outside, on the Hay Street side, is the Reflection Garden, surrounded by lush magnolia, live oak and elm trees and bordered by seasonal flowers. The Sunken Garden, lined with trees and benches, is located in the central part of the Reflection Garden. The Airborne & Special Operations Museum Gift Shop features a variety of items relevant to airborne and special operations, including books, coins, toys, clothing and much more.
The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday noon-5 p.m., and closed on Mondays and federal holidays. Note: It is open on Memorial Day, Independence Day and Veteran’s Day. Admission is free; donations are gladly accepted. A General Admission ticket for the Motion Simulator is $8.50 and can be purchased in the gift shop. Special rates are available for scheduled groups who wish to ride the simulator during their visit. School and military groups receive additional discounts, but must schedule their visit at least two weeks in advance to be eligible. It is recommended to allow two to three hours to tour the museum and its grounds.
Motorcoach groups are welcome to visit Fort Bragg and the Airborne & Special Operations Museum. The museum is located at 100 Bragg Boulevard, in the heart of Historic Downtown Fayetteville, just up the street from a variety of local shops and restaurants. Fort Bragg is easily accessible through the All American Gate, which is an eight-mile drive. The visitor coordinator will give tour planners specifics for entering the Army base when booking the visit. Buses can use the traffic circle to load and unload passengers at the front door and park for free in the far rear of the parking lot.
The museum is accessible and designed for all to enjoy. Gently sloping walkways surround the building, and a wide sweeping path winds its way through the main exhibit area. The museum has three wheelchairs available for those who require them.
While at Fort Bragg, tour groups may also want to visit the JFK Special Warfare Museum and the 82nd Airborne War Memorial Museum.
Contact the Visitor Services Coordinator about scheduling your group’s visit by phoning (910) 643-2768, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Airborne & Special Operations Museum