Welcome to the Gallery's exhibit listing. Exhibits are broken into People, Aircraft & Airships, Gen. Mitchell Field and Space.


Major General Thomas A. Benes

As a young boy, visits to General Mitchell Field by Tom Benes sparked his interest in aviation, which led to a career as a combat fighter pilot and Marine Corps leader.

A graduate of Milwaukee Custer High School and UW-Madison, Tom Benes was commissioned in the U. S. Marine Corps through the Platoon Leaders Class program in May, 1974 and was awarded his Naval Aviator wings in March, 1976. He further sharpened his flying skills as a graduate of the U. S. Navy Fighter Weapons School, TOPGUN, and later as a weapons and tactics instructor. He maintained his ties to Wisconsin while flying the F-4 Phantom II jet fighter, and later the F/A-18 Hornet Strike Fighter, accumulating 250 carrier arrested landings and commanding various fighter squadrons and a Marine air group.

Colonel Benes piloted his final F/A-18 flight in May, 2000. He had been selected for brigadier general and was subsequently promoted to major general in 2006.

Major General Tom Benes retired from the U. S. Marine Corps in 2009, after 35 years of honorable service. Tom Benes passed away September 30, 2014.

Major Dick Bong

A native of Poplar Wisconsin, and America's leading fighter ace, Dick Bong is colorfully represented in the Gallery. Photos, actual newspapers and a Lockheed P-38 scale model are displayed. Also included is a 1945 photo of Major Bong's wife, Marge, and replicas of the medals Bong was awarded.

Home of the Brave - Wisconsin's Hometown Heroes of World War II: Lt. Col Paul B. Dowd & Sergeant Robert H. Tyborski

Paul Dowd, a native of Milwaukee, enlisted in the Army Air Force in March, 1942. He graduated from advanced flight school at Luke Field, Phoenix, Arizona, in February 1943. Paul was later assigned to the 15th Air Force in Italy. Serving with the rank of Lieutenant, Paul Dowd flew 56 combat missions in the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt and later the North American P-51 Mustang while assigned to the 325th Fighter Group, known as the famous “Checkertail Clan.” 

Most of Lieutenant Dowd’s combat missions were flown over Italy and the Balkans escorting heavy bombers or participating in fighter sweeps. Dowd’s personal aircraft for most of these missions was christened “Spirit of Milwaukee County” with appropriate artwork applied to the nose. Assigned to this aircraft as Crew Chief was Staff Sergeant Stanley Stefanowski, a native of South Milwaukee. 

Following the end of World War II, Paul Dowd joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard and continued flying military aircraft with the 126th Fighter Squadron based at General Mitchell Field, Milwaukee. 

When members of the Air National Guard were activated for the Korean War, Captain Dowd was sent to Korea. While assigned to the 36th Fighter-Bomber Squadron in Korea, he flew 100 combat missions in Lockheed F-80 jet fighter aircraft. He returned to the Air National Guard in Milwaukee after the war and eventually became the Commander of the 126th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. 

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Dowd retired from the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1974 as the Director of Operations for the 128th Air Refueling Group. He continued to be active in various aviation organizations and was one of the charter members of the Friends of the Mitchell Gallery of Flight. He also served as a member of the Mitchell Gallery’s Board of Directors. Paul Dowd passed away April 4, 1994. This exhibit is dedicated to his memory.

Robert H. Tyborski proudly wore this uniform during World War II while serving in the U. S. Army Air Force. He entered military service on February 25, 1942 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois and completed his basic training at Camp Crowder, Missouri. He received specialized training at Orlando Army Air Base, Florida as an Aircraft Ground Radio Operator.

Sergeant Tyborski served overseas as a DF (Direction Finder) Operator, assisting battle-damaged aircraft return to their home bases by use of special radio homing equipment. Following the invasion of North Africa, he performed his DF duties from a radio van located atop the highest mountain in an area near Oran, Algeria. He was later relocated to Italy, serving in the area near Rome.

Robert Tyborski was honorably discharged from the U. S. Army Air Force on September 12, 1945.


Charles A. Lindbergh

Lindbergh visited the Milwaukee airport in August 1927, the same year of his historic non-stop flight across the Atlantic. The display accompanies a Spirit of St. Louis model, hanging just outside the entrance to the Gallery. This exhibit includes a woven Lindbergh tapestry, photos and information on Lindbergh's 1927 visit to Milwaukee.


Captain James A. Lovell

Captain Lovell grew up in Milwaukee and went on to become an Astronaut in the Gemini and Apollo programs. The Gallery exhibits its Lovell artifacts in the adjacent Lovell Conference Room and in a public display case. Within the conference room is an acrylic portrait presented to Lovell by the City of Milwaukee on "Jim Lovell Day," February 23, 1966. Also displayed outside the conference room are a Wisconsin state flag carried around the moon on Apollo 8, a crew flashlight used on Apollo 8, a flight checklist from Apollo 13, and Gemini and Apollo spacecraft models.

In July 2009, the Mitchell Gallery opened two new exhibit cases displaying artifacts and photos from the Naval and NASA careers of Captain Jim Lovell. While Captain Lovell is best known for his four Gemini and Apollo spaceflights, he also was a Naval Aviator and test pilot prior to joining NASA. The two displays separately cover Jim Lovell’s Naval Aviator and test pilot service prior to 1962 as well as his NASA career between 1962 and 1973.

Captain Lovell has loaned the Mitchell Gallery numerous items for these displays, including his Navy flight jacket, a NASA flight helmet, various aircraft and spacecraft models and several items flown on his space missions. Also included are various photos from Captain Lovell’s personal collection as well as from other sources. 

Brigadier General Lester Maitland

Maitland, a famous Army endurance flier, race pilot and World War II air commander, was born in Milwaukee. The Gallery displays are included in the Lester Maitland Conference Room as well as in a public display. Artifacts include items from Maitland's career as commander of the 386th Bomb Group, model of his World War II B-26 Marauder, Fokker Tri Motor, Curtis R-6 racer and various photos. 

General William "Billy" Mitchell

Mitchell grew up in Milwaukee and went on to become an prominent airpower advocate and pioneer. On display are medals representing the various awards he received. Also on display is a portrait of Mitchell that was once displayed in the original Mitchell Airport terminal. Also exhibited are his ceremonial sword, model of his DH-4 "Osprey" aircraft, and various photos about his career.

Captain Lance P. Sijan

In 1976 Captain Sijan, a Milwaukee native, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam. Several items are on display, including an Air Force Medal of Honor and a scale model of the F-4C Phantom II in which Captain Sijan flew his last mission.

Aircraft & Airships

Astronautics Corporation of America

Headquartered in Milwaukee, Astronautics is a manufacturer of equipment, electronics and systems for air, space, land, and sea applications.

Caravelle Cockpit

This exact 1:5 scale model of a Caravelle SUD SE-210 is a must see. Caravelles were used by United Airlines from 1961-1970 for flights between Newark, Cleveland and Milwaukee.

Hamilton Metalplane Display

Marston Mat

Displayed is a sample of the pierced steel planking (also known as the Marston Mat) which was used during World War II to establish useable surfaces for airfields. It was manufactured by the Milcor Steel Co. of Milwaukee.


Displayed on the north wall are several antique propellers, with the largest and oldest dating back to World War I. This propeller was manufactured by the Matthews Brothers Woodworking Co. in Milwaukee, under the direction of Thomas Hamilton. Two wooden and one metal Hamilton propeller are also displayed. This exhibit also includes a Maynard-di Cesare propeller, manufactured by the Maynard Steel Co. in the 1930s.

World War II Model Aircraft

Originally prepared to commemorate the end of World War II, this exhibit displays numerous 1/72nd scale models of aircraft from most countries participating in the war.

Graf Zeppelin II Model and The First Airliners Display

This 22 foot, 1/36th scale model suspended from the Gallery ceiling is one of a kind. Sister to the Hindenberg, the Graf Zeppelin II was one of the first airliners. Below the Zeppelin is a display of various Hindenberg and airship artifacts.

Northwest Airlines 757 Scale Model

Suspended next to the Graf Zeppelin, this 1/36th scale model represents the progress in commercial aviation since the airship era. 

General Mitchell Field

440th Airlift Wing

A look at the history of this unit from WWII through its final days in Milwaukee.

Wisconsin Air National Guard 50th Anniversary

The Bong Chapter of the IPMS built various scale plastic aircraft models of representative aircraft flown by Milwaukee's 128th Air Refueling Wing. This exhibit includes a KC-135R, F-51D, T-6G, F-89C, F-89D, TB-25K, O-47, F-5G, F-80 and KC-97L. Also included are various historical photos of the aircraft and memorabilia such as unit patches and medals.

Lawson Airliner Model and Display

This display commemorates the pioneer effort to establish a national airline system, which took place in Milwaukee between 1919-1921. Displayed are photos and a scale model of the Lawson C-2 airliner, built in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Aviation Paintings

Located on the east wall, this series of paintings shows the history of the types of commercial aircraft that have flown into Milwaukee. Included are the Hamilton Metalplane, Stinson SB-1, Loening Amphibian, Ford Trimotor, Boeing 247, Lockheed 10, Douglas DC-3, and the Lockheed 049 Constellation.

Airport Landing Register

This large book was used to record all aircraft operations at the airport during World War II. Documentation includes aircraft types, dates of movements and registration numbers.

Layton Avenue Air Terminal

This scale model shows the Milwaukee terminal as it appeared in 1941. Located on the ramp in front of the terminal are two scale DC-3's in the markings of Northwest Airlines and Pennsylvania Central Airlines.

Airport Beacon

The beacon atop the entry to the Gallery is believed by the Federal Aviation Administration to be that which first operated at Mitchell Field on November 1, 1926. It was used to guide airmail flights between Chicago and the Twin Cities.

1911 Curtis Pusher

This flyable aircraft was placed on display in 1988 and is suspended from the Airport's ceiling near the Gallery entrance. It represents one of the first aircraft flown in the state of Wisconsin.

Ozark DC-3 Model

Hanging within the Gallery, this large wooden model has been restored in the markings of Ozark Airlines DC-3 N130D.


Milwaukee In Space

This exhibit tells the story behind a laser light experiment sponsored by Milwaukee's St. Mary's Hospital and launched aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia, January 12, 1986.