Few things give me the chills like the sights and sounds of old aircraft. Shiny new airliners are fun to see, and impressive to admire, but nothing is quite like the simplistic majesty of old aircraft. Every time I talk with friends about winning the lottery and all the stuff we would buy, large amounts of old aircraft are right at the top of my list.
One lucky man is already the owner of just such a collection, though only for a little while longer. Back in June PilotOnline.com reported that Gerald Yagen of Virginia Beach will be selling his collection of old warbirds and closing the Military Aviation Museum due to financial reasons. As one of the largest collections of vintage aircraft in the world I can’t even imagine how much it must cost to maintain all of those planes.
In reading the comments with the article, there is apparently a lot of dispute over what has led to this unfortunate situation, but my only concern at this point is for the planes, and what will happen to them. We have already lost too many of these amazing aircraft, and we can’t afford to lose anymore.
As much as all of us avgeeks wish we could pool our money and save these planes, the reality is that that just isn’t going to happen. The most that we can do is hope that the right people buy these planes and maintain this history for as long as possible.
Organizations like Historic Flight Foundation and The Flying Heritage Collection at Paine Field North of Seattle are amazing organizations that due fantastic work in preserving these vital pieces of our nation’s history. The Legacy Flight Museum in Rexburg, ID is another such group that has committed themselves to maintaining the beautiful history of flight.
There are numerous other groups all across the country that are doing their part in keeping these beautiful aircraft in the air, but we must support them through our patronage, and if possible through financial donations. It takes a lot of money to keep these aircraft flying, but even more important than that is the continued interest of regular people so that they know their efforts are appreciated.
So the next time you are trying to decide what to do for the weekend get online and find your closest aviation museum. You may be surprised just how many there are. I recently heard about a DC-3 being restored at my local airport, so look for more information on that in the coming weeks.