Commentary Search

Heels through the museum

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Abbigayle Williams
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Taking trips for work are a routine occurrence for me as a Public Affairs Airman, but my most recent trip was the first time I regretted my shoe choice.

Let me break this down for you. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force has four hangars filled with aircraft and artifacts and on the first day, I walked nearly five miles in high heels.

For all those men and women thinking, “Hon, I got this. Five miles is nothing,” then grab some heels now, walk a while and talk to me when I’m done here.

My feet were just fine the first morning. A crisp breeze cut the sharp rays of the sun peeking through the clouds, I was happy and walking with ease. I was with a group of Airmen from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., going through the museum. ‘The Early Years’ exhibit was enlightening and I got a lot of awesome photos of planes.

For the most part, everything was perfect in the beginning. I was learning how to navigate working in heels and how to be a proper lady in a skirt while getting THE SHOT.

I take photos for the Air Force, if you didn’t know, and the shot is what I live for.

Then came the World War II exhibit, where we saw the B-29 Bockscar that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a B-52 that flew in the Doolittle Raid, the B-17F Memphis Belle, and so much more.

As Airmen, we learn about all these Air Force historical figures in Basic Training, but for many, the knowledge ends there. So, seeing the history come to life through the planes was incredible for the entire group.

After oohing and ahhing for more than two hours, the group finally exited the first hangar, but not without battle wounds. Feet were swollen and toes were numb. Every step hurt and it felt like there were rocks in our shoes, which there actually was in my case.

Our tour guide and museum curator finally called lunch and the relief that came over me was intense. Now, if only I could have just sit down to find that all the photos I needed had appeared on my camera like magic.

As I walked out to the parking lot to put away my camera bag, I must have been delusional from the pain. I’m not sure what happened, but I do know someone appeared out of nowhere right in front of me when I made a bird-like noise when I wrenched my foot after stepping into a pothole.

At this point, the shoe game was over; but there were still four more hours to go.

After lunch, the group went through the remaining three hangars.

The first stop was the Korean War gallery, which took 15 minutes just to walk to. Granted, we did stop a time or two for photos and to point out a few exhibits. At this point, we were only minutes into the second half of the day and my feet were already throbbing. 

Did I mention yet this museum has more than 19 acres of indoor exhibit space? This place is enormous and the Cold War exhibit was next.

On to the next hangar, where the plane count continued to soar. We got to see an A-10, which is my personal favorite. There were also a few aircraft cockpits around the floor for viewing.

This is about the time I started thinking I might need to bail out to the bathroom, hoping no one saw me so they would move on without me. After all, who is going to miss the ONLY photographer on this trip? It’s not like random and incessant clicking was going off in everyone’s ears every two seconds.

Now onto the part that everyone in the group was most excited about: the missile gallery. Coming from an ICBM base, we all work together to keep the mission afloat, even if we never come in direct contact with a missile.

The missile lineage was all compiled into a single room, showing us the foundations of the ICBM all the way to where we are today.

The Airmen who work around missiles daily became very passionate about educating others in the group on the structure of a Minuteman III, how it works and why it is such an ingenious piece of technology. We spent a good chunk of time in this round enclosure, allowing our feet to rest since ever missile could be seen from a single point in the room.

After we finally moved on, we made it to the fourth and final hangar. At this point, the exhaustion could be seen on everyone’s face, but it lit up seeing the space shuttle trainer and the space potty.

Now, every person questioning why I choose to wear heels to a museum, knowing very well the vastness of the space, has clearly never had an outfit dilemma. The group was wearing blues during the tours, but I decided to wear the skirt due to the summer temperatures. While it may work for some women, there was no way I was wearing the loafers and the skirt; therefore, I HAD TO PUT ON THE HEELS. 

After adding another five miles in heels on the second day, it was done. I was done.

The trip was the most exciting museum visit I could have imagined. The knowledge shared between the Airmen alone was enough to ponder on for weeks. Unfortunately, we were only visiting for two days and the museum needs at least four days for a complete tour. 

Now do yourself a favor and make plans to visit this museum. Just wear the loafers, unless you want to build camaraderie over sore feet.