The Stafford Air & Space Museum, in Weatherford, Oklahoma, is named in honor of legendary test pilot and astronaut Lt. General Thomas P. Stafford, born and raised in Weatherford. His mother came to Oklahoma in a covered wagon and lived to see her only child fly to the moon. Stafford was among the second group of astronauts selected by NASA in 1962 and flew four historic space missions. For his efforts as Joint Commander of the U.S. and Soviet Apollo-Soyuz mission, Stafford received a Nobel Peace Prize nomination and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor, among other awards.
Named a Smithsonian Affiliate in 2011, the museum houses more than an acre of exhibits and showcases thousands of items representing the evolution of aviation and spaceflight. Examples include a 10-story Titan II rocket, actual space suits – including Stafford’s flown Apollo 10 pressure suit – an Apollo Command & Service Module, and one of the most impressive collections of rocket engines in the world. Highlights are a gigantic F-1 from the Saturn V, a flown Shuttle Main Engine, and a flown segment of a Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster you can walk through. Aircraft displays include an F-86, T-33, T-38, F-16, and a rare MIG-21. Full-scale replicas of the Wright Flyer, Curtiss Pusher and Spirit of St. Louis and Bell X-1 can also be viewed.
The museum’s newest outdoor display has already become an iconic monument for the region. Situated just outside the front entrance, one of the most revolutionary aircraft ever built, the Lockheed F-104 “Starfighter,” now points majestically six stories straight up into the sky.
The Stafford Air & Space Museum is located at 3000 E. Logan Road, just off I-40 and Exit 84 on historic Route 66. Open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, the museum welcomes bus groups of all sizes, for self-guided or guided tours. Tour guides are available at no additional cost, but must be booked two to four weeks ahead of time. The bus group will be greeted by both the front desk professional and tour guides. Tours begin in the Apollo Conference Room for a 15-minute video about the museum’s namesake, and are then divided into groups of 25-30 for an exclusive guided tour through the museum.
Tours take 60 to 90 minutes; it is recommended to allot two hours so that passengers may browse the museum’s gift shop. Group rates are $5 for adults and $2 for students age 18 and under. Drivers receive a comp ticket. Checks, cash and credit cards are accepted, and groups may pay ahead of time, or individually or as a group on the day of the visit. No on-site dining options are offered, but the Apollo Conference Room is available for catered meals or for groups that bring their own food. Other restaurants nearby welcome large groups, including Lucille’s Roadhouse, an iconic Route 66 restaurant just three minutes from the facility.
Buses can drop off and pick up passengers right at the front entrance of the museum. The facility is handicapped-accessible, and wheelchairs are available. Buses may park in the museum parking lot.
Visit http://staffordmuseum.org for more information.