National Museum of WWII Aviation Celebrates a Decade of Preservation | New

The National WWII Aviation Museum opened with a historian-led tour in October 2012. Two people attended.

About 300,000 museum and air show visitors later, the museum will celebrate its 10th anniversary on Saturday with raffles, flights and food from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Community reception has taken off since those early days.

“Looking at the start, you’d say, ‘No, you’ll never get there,'” said museum president and CEO Bill Klaers. “But as you go through that two years, three years, it’s just – it’s the snowball downhill. It just keeps getting bigger and better all the time.

The day will begin with a meeting with war veterans at 10 a.m. Visitors can then take free rides on military vehicles, listen to live pre-war and post-war music from the Denver Dolls, or grab a bite to eat from a food truck. . Seven lucky raffle winners – one for the “iconic” T-6 Texan trainer and six for the B-25 Mitchell bomber – will be able to fly in vintage aircraft, weather permitting.

The museum houses 28 rare exhibit aircraft, over 1,800 artifacts, 100 exhibits and seven military vehicles. Regular exhibits will remain open during the celebration, where visitors can step back in time following the history of American aviation in World War II.

The United States entered the fray far behind the technological advancements of its enemies, Klaers said. His first aircraft, the F3F Flying Barrel, was a wooden, fabric, 900 horsepower biplane.

“They thought they had to have battleships and the navy was going to win the war for them, not the air force,” Klaers said.

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At the end of the tour, visitors experience how quickly American aircraft have adapted in just five years with the F7F Tigercat: the first forward-geared, carrier-based aircraft with more than four horsepower. times that of the Flying Barrel, equipped with rocket rails and .450-caliber machine guns. It was faster than any competition at the time.

The museum also explores the stories behind those who served. Among the familiar and highly decorated names, however, there are some lesser-known faces.

“These guys were 18 or 19, and they went out and did heroic things, but they didn’t feel like they were doing anything heroic,” Klaers said. “The museum was able to create a story showing kids that you can achieve whatever you want to achieve in life.”

Stories like these — like that of Bill Yinger, Sam Hunter, or other veterans whose names are not immortalized in classrooms — were submitted by loved ones, who wanted to preserve their memory.

“That’s such a key part of this museum – keeping these people’s stories alive for what they can teach future generations,” said senior communications volunteer John Henry. “That makes all the difference.”

As the museum celebrates 10 years of preserving stories from the past, Klaers said they are always looking to the future.

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They have launched a fundraising campaign to fund an additional 40,000 square foot hangar and the construction of the Aviation Hall, which will house additional classrooms, an auditorium, conference rooms and exhibits on 86,000 square feet. . The museum also plans to launch an airframe and power plant school to train students in aircraft maintenance and repair.

“I sit here every night thinking, ‘What are we going to put in the next 10 years?’ Clarers said. “‘How are you going to take this to the next stage?'”

Admission is reduced to $10 for Saturdays or free for museum members and WWII veterans. Those wishing to board the plane must register between 10 a.m. and noon to be considered for this draw. One-year museum membership raffles will be drawn hourly beginning at 11 a.m.

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