Airstream Heritage Center Celebrates 90+ Years of the Silver Bullet

By Author: Vicki Arkoff, Date: Jun 22, 2022
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Airstream, maker of the iconic “silver bullet” fleet of Airstream travel trailers and touring coaches has opened the impressive Airstream Heritage Center inside the company’s headquarters in Jackson Center, Ohio. The Heritage Center celebrates Airstream’s rich history with a museum collection documenting 90+ years of innovation and a wish-list of 15 incredible vintage Airstream models. Our faves include a 1938 Clipper (an example of the first riveted aluminum Airstream model), the Gold Airstream (gold?!?!) that Wally Byam used to lead the Capetown to Cairo Caravan, and a painted Argosy travel trailer.

Airstream Wally’s Gold Airstream

Displays feature the story of Airstream’s founding in 1931 to those highlighting the epic Caravans that crisscrossed the globe and the company’s partnership with America’s space program. Among the many artifacts on display, the Heritage Center’s Wally Byam Collection charts the Airstream founder’s life from his early days to his legacy that continues to drive product development and hand-built craftsmanship today. Byam’s collection includes childhood portraits and notebooks where he sketched ideas for his initial Airstream concepts and designs.

Just a few of the 15 vintage Airstreams on display in the new museum

Other notable collections in the museum include Caravan Treasures, Airstream’s collection of original films and photographs of caravanners traveling around the world tell the story that began with the first Airstream Caravan in 1951.  Airstream Archives displays nine decades of company history, including product testing films, brochures, engineering drawings, newspaper articles, plans for NASA’s Mobile Quarantine Facilities, and more.

The Airstream And Space Exhibit

One of Airstream’s most cherished collections in the Heritage Center is on display thanks to the donation of Dale “Pee Wee” Schwamborn on behalf of his mother’s estate. Helen Byam Schwamborn, the cousin of Airstream’s founder and leader of the Wally Byam Caravan Club International, kept meticulous records on Airstream history and saved a litany of family archives. 

1955 Commodore Vanderbilt on loan from The Gulley Collection.jpg

The Airstream Heritage Center is Ohio’s best new road trip destination, the best-yet sales pitch to tempt caravan wannabes, and, IMHO, the gift shop alone is worth the price of admission. It’s open to the public Monday-Friday 9am-4pm (excluding holidays) at Airstream Headquarters, 1001 W. Pike St. Jackson Center, Ohio. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for military, and free for children 12 and under, with all proceeds benefiting the Airstream Foundation.

1948 Airstream Wee Wind
1948 Airstream Wee Wind Interior
1963 Airstream Tradewind
1963 Airstream Tradewind Interior
French bicyclist, Alfred Letourneur pulls an Airstream
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Vicki Arkoff

Based in Los Angeles, Vicki Arkoff is the Editor-At-Large for Rides & Drives, reporting on travel, entertainment, and lifestyle. She also reports for Just Luxe, Atlas Obscura, The Daily Meal, Day Spa Magazine, Prevue, Where Guestbook, and Where Magazine, and is Editor for Holiday Goddess, the online destination for chic women travelers from the editors of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Grazia, Conde Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, and BBC. She's co-author of the bestselling Holiday Goddess books (HarperCollins and iTunes) including 'The Holiday Goddess Guide to Paris, London, New York, Rome' which spent nearly 10 months in the travel Top 10. As editor, Vicki's other books include 'Sinatra' (DK), 'Inside Mad' (Time-Life) and 'Virgin Los Angeles' (Virgin Books). She is one of the Usual Gang of Idiots for MAD Magazine, and authorized biographer for several icons including Beastie Boys, Duran Duran, Paul McCartney, Megadeth, Yoko Ono, Radiohead, Frank Sinatra and Tina Turner.

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