Last Friday, our boss decided to close the office at noon to let us get an early start on a long holiday weekend. One of my coworkers was in town for the week from his normal remote office in Chicago. He was heading home Friday, but not at noon. Since I live
at near the airport (BDL), I usually drive him to the airport. We often leave early enough to enjoy an adult beverage once we get close, however, we didn’t want to spend an afternoon sitting in a bar. We decided to have lunch and then tour the New England Air Museum (NEAM) which is located on BDL’s perimeter road.
While we were still at work, his airline called and offered him a chance to get out on an earlier flight. Our weather was taking a turn for the worse, with severe thunderstorms and a possible tornado entering the forecast. We still had time for a quick tour of the museum, but I felt compelled to point out a little irony of which, I was pretty sure, he was unaware.
As far as I know, Windsor Locks has had two tornadoes. One very minor one a couple of years ago, and one very powerful one in 1979. The one in 1979…destroyed…the Air Museum. What a great place to go hang out during a storm watch. Here are some pictures from 1979.
Like most air museums, NEAM is fairly small but chockablock full of planes and artifacts of the history of flight. In addition, due to the proximity of Sikorsky and Kaman corporations, NEAM has more than the normal compliment of helicopters, including some very early models.
We arrived at the museum with barely an hour before I had to get my buddy to the airport. I told him that, since I’ve been there before, we could look at anything he wanted to see, but that we had to leave 15 minutes to see the B-29 Superfortress. “Jack’s Hat” had been acquired by the museum before the tornado, but in the aftermath of the tornado, staff and volunteers were too busy rebuilding the museum to start a major restoration. Work began in 1999, and for years, we waited. We followed the progress in the local papers, and one tour that I took included a look inside the restoration hangar. When they started building the B-29 Hangar, we started to get excited. We were not disappointed, the volunteer crew had done a marvelous job.
Looking at some of the early planes, and considering that people have been flying for only a little over 100 years, the progress is truly amazing. Some of those early contraptions look absolutely scary. When you stop and think that, at some point, a person had to climb in there and “take it up” you just have to wonder how we ever made any progress.
So, here’s to the aviation pioneers, the people who designed, built, tested and flew us into the age of flight. Here’s to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard aviators who protect this country during peacetime and during war. And, here’s to the volunteers who locate, research, restore and repair these relics so that we can look, learn and imagine.
This post is part of Norm Frampton’s door-addiction-support-group, known as Thursday Doors. If you have the urge to add a door, or just a desire to see even more doors,
hop fly on over to Norm’s place. Check out his door(s) and click the little blue button.
In keeping with the theme, I focused mainly on doors. That said, if you’re an airplane, helicopter or mechanical buff, the second gallery includes photos of some of the other exhibits