In a state known for its aviation heritage, the MAPS Air Museum is a wonderful hidden gem in Ohio that should not be ignored. After spending a month road-tripping across Ohio, I decided to spend my last night in Canton – visiting other unrelated museums – when I discovered the small air museum with a big story to tell. My time was limited, but every minute was exciting and educational.
The Military Aviation Preservation Society is a non-profit organization formed to collect aircraft and tell the story of aviation history. The society has over 50 aircraft on display at their museum located beside Akron-Canton Airport. Inside the hangar, the Gallery of Heroes is a fascinating walk through military veterans’ lives with hundreds of artifacts on display.
2260 International Parkway, North Canton, OH | 330-896-6332 | https://mapsairmuseum.org/
Admission into the museum was $10 – an amount I felt was appropriate considering everything I could see inside. The self-guided tour began inside the Hangar Exhibit, a massive indoor space with about a dozen aircraft to explore.
Immediately, my eyes were drawn to the vibrant Blue Angels aircraft – an A-4A Skyhawk – with a ginormous American flag hanging as a backdrop. The Blue Angels, the Navy’s premier flight stunt team, have always been my favorite to watch at airshows.
A loop around the Hangar Exhibit took me past a B-29B Marauder, airplane engines, miniature displays, and eventually the Loral GZ-22 “Spirit of Akron” – otherwise known as the Goodyear Blimp. It was the first – and most likely only – time I had stepped inside the transport slung beneath the blimps.
Weather permitting, I highly recommend a walk around the tarmac outside the Hangar Exhibit. Dozens of aircraft sit on display along a self-guided loop trail. Typical aircraft I’ve seen at museums like the EA-6B Prowler, F-14B Tomcat, and F-16 Fighting Falcon was on display.
But I also found a few oddities I’d never seen on display before: an F-86A Sabre, LIM-2 Midget, and A-26C Invader. Several of the aircraft were foreign-built, but most were American military aircraft at one point.
Bombers, attack aircraft, interceptors, transports, and helicopters. There was a little bit of everything at this museum, rivaling almost any other aviation museum of the same physical size.
Gallery of Heroes
Although I love exploring historical aircraft, my favorite place to visit at the MAPS Air Museum was the Gallery of Heroes. This extensive exhibit – located on the second floor of the hangar – told dozens of stories of veterans of the United States military. All branches were represented in the gallery with exhibit cases filled with uniforms, weaponry, miniature models, and artifacts.
Newspaper clippings and copies of journals were hung on the walls to add to the exhibit’s impact. Stories of veterans fighting during conflicts worldwide added a very human touch to wars normally reserved for television shows and movies for average citizens. I wanted to read them all – which would have taken hours at the least – but resigned myself to reading only a few of the interesting stories on display.
Ohio Military Museum
Have you ever heard of a museum within a museum? When the Ohio Military Museum closed its doors due to a dwindling budget, the entire archive of exhibit displays was moved to the MAPS Air Museum. Located on the second floor of the hangar, the exhibit was fascinating to explore.
Rows of clean, neat display cases house uniforms, weaponry, and artifacts from every conflict the United States fought since the War of 1812. A walk along each row was like walking through that moment in history and rounding the next corner like turning a page in a great book.