When people think of aviation, the first thing which comes to mind is planes and flying. Most don’t typically think of animals. However, the Aviation Museum of Kentucky is approaching history from a different, furry point of view, and it is bringing man’s best friend along for the ride, too.
With its latest exhibit, A Tribute to Military Working Dogs, attendees will get a glimpse into the role our furry friends have played throughout the history of the military, from the Peloponnesian War (404 B.C.) to now. The exhibit, now open until March, will put an emphasis on canine service through history and the nation’s armed forces.
According to Marty Schadler, Board of Trustee Secretary, the exhibit tells a wonderful story of the history of Military Working Dogs with a heavy slant of contemporary times. Schadler said mankind and dogs have worked together for a long time helping to fight in wars.
During World War II, a campaign was started to have families volunteer their dogs to serve in the armed forces. The organization was set up to take all kinds of breeds to use. Today, the four breeds which typically make the majority of Military Working Dogs population are the Doberman Pinscher, the German Shepard, the Belgian Malinois and the Labrador Retriever. There are an estimated 2,500-2,700 dogs serving the country currently.
Due to the physiology of the canine, dogs have played a major role in search and rescue missions. Their sense of smell has protected military forces from mustard gas attacks, like Sergeant Stubby, who served in World War I. The Boston Bull terrier also comforted wounded and caught a spy while he was in France with American Forces.
Since 1958, there has been a training facility at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, where the four-legged friends go for training with their handlers, before going on to serve all five branches of the military.
The Military Working Dogs are trained in nine different positions: tunnel, pack, sledge, casualty, silent scout, tactical, attack, messenger and sentry. While some of theses jobs seem rather simple, these positions have helped to save a countless number of lives.
Schadler hopes patrons who visit the exhibit will leave with a greater appreciation of the emotional bond between dog and man who help our military.
The exhibit is only the beginning when stopping at the Aviation Museum in Lexington.
Patrons get to take a glimpse at the aircrafts which have been used throughout history, from the AH-1 Helicopter “Cobra”, an attack helicopter which was used during Vietnam, to the Pulsar Ultralight Aircraft, used for sport or recreation purposes. The museum provides an opportunity to explore the different aircrafts used throughout the years.
In 1995, the Aviation Museum first opened its doors to the public. The museum also holds the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame, which has welcomed many individuals in the aviation world with ties to Kentucky.
Residents hoping to catch a flight to the Aviation Museum to check out the exhibit can stop by Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. The museum is located at 4029 Airport Road, Lexington, adjacent to the Blue Grass Airport.