The great aviation heritage of the heartland (pictures)

From an SR-71 Blackbird to the Doomsday plane to Goodyear's forthcoming Zeppelin, CNET's Daniel Terdiman sought out the most important flying machines in the midwest during Road Trip 2013.

Daniel Terdiman
1 of 16 Daniel Terdiman/CNET

SR-71 Blackbird

ASHLAND, Neb. -- The American heartland has as rich an aviation history as any region on Earth. And it should, given that the Wright brothers were from Dayton, Ohio.

Over five weeks this summer on Road Trip 2013, CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman visited many of the region's most important aviation hotspots.

Among them was the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Ashland, near Omaha, which has, among other things, a very rare SR-71 Blackbird, one of the fastest planes in military history.

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Another important airplane those in the Midwest could visit is this B-2 bomber, which lives at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio.
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Doomsday plane

If the United States ever ends up in a nuclear conflict, its military leaders may well conduct the war from the skies aboard what is known as the Doomsday plane, or, more formally, the National Airborne Operations Center.
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This is Bockscar, the actual B-29 Superfortress that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, at the end of World War II. It is on exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio.
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Memphis Belle restoration

This is the original Memphis Belle, which is being fully restored at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio. This plane was the first American bomber to successfully complete 25 missions during World War II, making it a perfect plane for promoting the war effort back home.
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The U2 was one of America's most famous spy planes during the Cold War. The Strategic Air & Space Museum, in Ashland, Neb., has one on display.
7 of 16 Public domain photograph by John T. Daniels

Wright Brothers first flight

Although the Wright brothers made their famous first flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., they developed their Wright Flyer in Dayton, Ohio.
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Huffman Prairie

The world's first airport was in this field, known as Huffman Prairie Flying Field, in Dayton, Ohio. There, the Wright brothers practiced putting their fledgling planes in the air by launching them using a catapult.
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The flying car is for real. Known as the Terrafugia, it is now for sale (for $279,000), and those on hand at the huge EAA AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis. got to see it take air.
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Driving away

The Terrafugia can go from airborne to street-legal car in just minutes.
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A B-52 Superfortress, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio.
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Goodyear zeppelin

Goodyear is getting ready to move from flying blimps -- which are essentially just huge airbags -- to Zeppelins, which have a hard airframe. Here, we see the construction of Goodyear's first zeppelin, at the company's airship operations headquarters, outside Akron, Ohio.
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Zeppelin frame

A look at the internal frame of Goodyear's first Zeppelin.
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Nuclear bomber modification factory

Although it is now a giant gym, this building once was a factory where both Enola Gay, and Bockscar, the two B-29s that dropped atomic bombs on Japan to end World War II, were modified for those missions. The facility is located at Offutt Air Force Base, outside Omaha, Neb.
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Goodyear still flies blimps from three airfields in the United States, including Wingfoot Lake, near Akron, Ohio.
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Although this plane no longer flies, it still gets kids (and adults) who visit the City Museum in St. Louis excited about aviation.

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