Chanute Aerospace Museum, Rantoul

#66 of 106 in Museums in Illinois
The Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum, the largest aviation museum in Illinois, occupied part of the grounds of the decommissioned Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois. It and the base were named for Octave Chanute, railroad engineer and aviation pioneer. The museum was dedicated to the life and works of Chanute, the former air base, the history of aviation in the state of Illinois, and hosted an annual air show.Highlights of the museum included a collection of over 40 aircraft including military fighters, bombers, rescue, recon, and cargo aircraft. Many of these were used for training purposes at Chanute, and most were on loan from the United States Air Force Museum. Other exhibits of note included a replica of the Wright 1903 Flyer, a large collection of Frasca Flight Simulators, and tributes to the veterans who have served in America's conflicts and wars.The museum offered summer day camp programs, including a week-long aviation camp for teens and a science camp for elementary-school aged children. In addition, the museum offered various educational and social events throughout the year.The facility enjoyed direct runway access to Rantoul National Aviation Center Airport - Frank Elliot Field, another successful use of the former base facilities. Fly-in visitors were welcomed. Ample vehicle and bus parking was also available to accommodate groups.The museum closed on December 30, 2015.HistoryChanute Air Force Base operated in Rantoul from 1917-1993. After decommission, the cleanup and conversion of the 2125acre grounds began. Economic redevelopment of the former base was a paramount concern to the surrounding community. As of 2008, portions of the site are still unoccupied, due in part to environmental concerns including asbestos contamination. Nevertheless, much has been repurposed into civilian concerns. The Octave Chanute Aerospace Museum was one of the earliest efforts, opening in 1994.
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Chanute Aerospace Museum Reviews
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  • I had training in this base,in1975 frome iranian air force we stayed there for six months we never forget our friends & good times with the people in there. I hope some day I could back again ...  more »
  • JMJ As far as I know this great, but in need of a lot of work, museum is closed to the public. Was in Rantoul this week-end and all the signs are either down or washed out.  more »
  • Closed.. Few planes outside in back. Over grown SAD. Another military base that was closed. Most of the building and in bad shape and in need of repair. Airport was turned over the the city. Lack of f...  more »
  • If you love aviation history this was a great place to experience it gonna miss it and thank you to all the men and women that kept it open for all these years and to let all of us experience it also thank you.
  • I was trained there in Jan 72 and March 74
  • planes are in pretty bad shape, can't really go inside to see
  • I was sad to hear that the museum is closing down at the end of this month. I visited the museum in Summer 2014, while on a cross-country motorcycle trip, and had been trained at Chanute in 1969-70 as a flight simulator technician. The museum was one of the nicer ones displaying aircraft and I was pleasantly surprised to see an F-104 Starfighter, as well as a B-58 Hustler. While in training at Chanute, our formation had to march past a B-36 on display. After finishing my training, I was stationed at Castle AFB, outside of Merced, CA and trained B-52 pilots. During another motorcycle trip last summer, I also stopped off at the Castle AFB air museum, and much to my surprise, I found that the Chanute B-36 had been moved years earlier and is now on display at Castle! Thanks, Chanute Air Museum for being there since the base's closure and the fond memories it brought back to me during my visit.
  • My dad worked at Chanute as an Air Force man, and loves the museum. It is a shame they are closing down. :(

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