Catching UP

December was a disappointing month. 2018 begins with more promise,  but the future remains “the vast unknown.”

Springfield had / is having a major severe cold spell. Water pipes at the far end of the hall where AeroKnow Museum – Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (AKMSPI)  is located burst and significantly damaged the un–occupied rooms furthest away from our Welcome Room and Models on Display Room. Damage to our “turf” was the industrial carpet floor here SOAKED by water that wicked in under the doors. Anything here touching the floor was damaged but not destroyed. It will all dry out — a little water-wrinkled but okay.  The cold spell — never warmer than 25 F outside — is still  going strong with no end in sight. Except for my small space heater which warms the calves of my legs but neither feet or the rest of me, there is no heat in AKM’s part of the building operated by our generous host, Stellar Aviation.  I’ve been taking work home to what I call AKM428.  A lot of tasks are getting done this way, most important: a MAJOR re-organization of aircraft photo negatives. I’ll explain this in the week ahead. I’ve spent more time  here at AKMSPI today than I did during most of  December and January to this moment.  I PLAN to resume the AeroKnow Museum Day to Day blog starting Sunday, January 14.

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Barry Tempest Returns to Lincoln Land Part 2

About the picture at the top:  After leaving AeroKnow Museum early into the evening, Barry and I visited the great American supermarket Hy-Vee on a mission of mercy: mercy for him because because he was out of cigarettes (Marlboro) and mercy for me because I was out of wine. Barry picked up the check for our tasty, unhurried dinner at Dynasty restaurant near my home. I had the Strawberry Chicken  It had been a few years since I last dined there, and I had forgotten how nice it is.  I must go back soon — as soon as I can find another friend with the financial wherewithal to pick up the check! Then is was off to my home, soon to be called AKM428 as materials presently at the airport are being moved to my living room and basement. Barry posed in the soon-to-be AKM Reading Room. Worth noting: the portrait on the left is me, drawn by internationally-known artist Ned Chase (friend of  Mom and Dad) when I was about four years old. On the book shelf is a 1950 Aircraft Recognition publication, and an empty Hawk Model Company kit box of the first and only American-made kit of the British Gloster Javelin all-weather interceptor. I had built that kit as a 12 year old. Because I had forgotten Barry would be in Springfield the 4th & 5th, I had not picked up and cleaned my home so it was a place of disarray en extremis, He was too kind to be outwardly disturbed by the grossly inexcusable “war zone,” and we muddled through okay. We return now to the ambling at AeroKnow Museum earlier in the day.

Pic top left was taken in AKM’s Books & Miscellaneous Room where our books and files of miscellaneous subjects (air shows, airports, airlines people, modeling articles) were maintained. As recently as 2006 the room was the office of Springfield Air Rendezvous, a major regional air show from 1983 to 2006. Behind Barry is a Bush/Cheney 2004 election bumper sticker which the airshow manager had displayed.  I had left the bumper sticker in place in the implicit home that the former manager would return and take it home, She never found time to visit AKM, but if she defies the odds and comes a calling., she may have it.  The poster by artist Steve Venters was produced for the 1985 event. I had some left, and was happy to give two to the well-esteemed world traveler.

More history drew us to the Periodicals Room across the hall.. There, Barry examined issues of the Luftwaffe WWII propaganda magazine  Der Adler (Stuka on the cover) and others dating back to 1910.  Over the years I have collected some (not many) LIFE Magazines and was amazed to share the September 21, 1939  issue with him, inviting him to leisurely page through it. Being able to connect that issue with gentleman Tempest  was an incredible honor for me.
In the course of our conversation, Barry shared his admiration for American Hollywood stars who risked their lives away from cozy movieland to participate in the shooting war in Europe. Clark Gable flew a tour as gunner with a B-17 unit. James Stewart rose through the ranks initially piloting B-24s and commanding a group. Again, wonderful coincidence: we found a LIFE which  featured  a cover photo and story  of Stewart’s return to the USA in  September 1945. I promised to scan the cover and story and send it to him. Photographing it may  be the  better option here at AKMSPI.

At home, after the delightful Dynasty dinner, Barry took a picture of the beverage purchased earlier at Hy-Vee so he could show his friends in England what REAL WINE — Carlo Rossi’s California Burgundy in  a U.S.-gallon glass jug) — LOOKS LIKE (ha ha ha)! What can I say? On my income, my “friend” Mr. Rossi is the best deal I can pour into  a glass, and sometimes I can’t afford THAT. Barry bought the jug when I introduced him to it at the store, and we shared it — in moderation — for the rest of the evening. BaTe-24

My furnace was still broken during his visit, but the sleeping bad he  had donated to AKM during his previous visit kept him warm as he slept on the “house sofa.” We arose for the day at 6 am, and by the time we made it out to my Dodge Caravan, the sun had arrived for the occasion. This is the last picture I took during his incredible visit.

In the course of just under 24 hours we packed in more convivial, constructive,, educational conversation than I have savored with another hummin’ bean in 10 years or more.  Barry shared suggestions in the hope that they might help keep AeroKnow Museum VIABLE as an asset to historic aviation. He also promised to write an article about his visit to the USA with due attention to my little rodeo at the airport. The happy fact that this internationally known professional pilot, air show performer and retired British aviation administrator found significant MERIT to what’s going on here SHINES in bright contrast to my ongoing incapacity to find solutions from Springfield and central Illinois citizens, people who by all logic, would be most inclined to  keep wheels turning here. His visit has infused my heart and soul with renewed resolve to seek solutions. With his help . . . . and YOUR help, I hope . . . . .in the  months to come we will FIND them.

Thanks for reading this post. Please support AeroKnow Museum.  Please comment below this post or email to to learn how.

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Kings Cliffe, England’s Barry Tempest Visits AKM

On Sunday, November 5, as I arrived in the Stellar Aviation  lobby on my way to AeroKnow Museum (AKM) down the hall, I was delighted to be greeted by long-time friend Barry Tempest of Kings Cliffe, England. I had been looking forward to seeing him since he shared advance notice of his plan to visit earlier this year. Somehow, I had spent the previous week totally unmindful of the day of his planned arrival. He had emailed his itinerary to friends, but I simply paid insufficient attention. What brought him back to the colonies for his fourth visit was his promise to attend his dear friend’s wedding in Wisconsin. From there he would drive (brave soul) south to Springfield and then to points east before returning home.

The AKM I showed him for the  following several hours was different from what he would  have seen had he come about this time in 2016. A gradual reconsideration of the museum’s  mission and how to accomplish it followed notice of the approaching renovation of the FBO (fixed base operations) facilities here at the airport.  The offices area where we are “installed” and two adjacent hangars are slated for demolition in the coming year, coincident with the change, in late 2016, of facility management. The area shared with AKM by Landmark Aviation, later the locally owned Horizon Aviation, was re-allocated and we were told AKM must find a new “home” in 2018. AKM was invited to leave the highly visible office that  opened to the FBO lobby and move into what, in some ways, has proven to be even nicer accommodation down, down, down the hall.  Concurrent and since that move, AKM made other adjustments which will be described in another post here, probably in December.

Barry  (as Britons say) was “VERY KEEN” on having a “proper picture” of his cap, so after taking the leading picture above,  I was happy to take a closer look . . .

He explained his  justifiably righteous pride  in looking forward to being the only octogenarian to fly in next year’s Vintage Aerobatics World Championships. This year he finished 11th from the large field who competed for glory. He flew a friend’s Stampe SV-4. Click on any pictures which follow for larger images. Captions will follow below.

Our first stop in the tour was the Models on Display Room where 1/72, 1/144 and 1/48 models are displayed. The book Springfield Aviation from Arcadia Publishing was
authored by yours truly,  Job Conger, founder AeroKnow Museum . The large DC-9 model was donated by a local travel agency who supports AKM.  When he visited my home in 2004, Barry saw many of these models in humbler surroundings, and he was please to see them displayed as they deserve to be.

We also visited the AKM Welcome Room, which is usually the first room encountered, host of a gallery/repository of thousands of photographs preserved and displayed and  the  true “operations room” of AKM. We were  so busy chatting, I totally forgot to reach for my  camera. Pictures above were taken on the second floor. In the hallway ( left) the display of advertising loaned by a Springfield supporter caught his attention. “THAT is the advertisement that led to my taking up cigarettes,” he said smiling as he posed for a snap.  Right top was taken in our evolving  Reading Room. For the moment books have not yet been relocated here from the room at the far end of the hall. The 1/32 scale models did attract his attention. In the Surplus Room where material in  excess to the evolving museum are deposited, Barry found this paperback  edition of  French ace Pierre Closterman’s classic The Big Show  of interest, the first US edition  he had seen. AKM has the hardback first edition, so this book became the first of a few souvenirs he would take home with him, my gift to my friend. Closterman gained great fame with the Royal Air Force flying Hawker TEMPESTS! No wonder he likes the book!
He found two kits of the Beechcraft 17 Staggerwing, one of his favorite (favourite, if you’re an Englishperson) airplanes (aeroplanes if you’re an Englishman) and took pictures.  He was fully  aware that if he wanted to take home everything he wanted to take, there would have been no room on the flight home for HIM. So the Stagger’ kits remain at AKM.

We next visited AeroKnow Museum’s Kits Room, probably the closest we get to a “circus ride” for model builders, unanimously heralded by visitors as what they’d want to have if they were stranded on  a dessert island. We could have spent an hour in this room alone and probably came close. Barry noticed an extra kit of a Polikarpov Po-2 and mentioned a woman friend who flies a restored example of that classic flying machine. He wanted it so  much he spoke those five  magic words I love to hear — “I WANT TO BUY THIS” and he took it home with him. The Frog kit of the Spitfire is EARLYearly injection molded plastic model kit which  I acquired from England probably 35 years ago, and it was old at that time. It’s an ultra-rare piece of history, and if I  had not known, decades ago,  what I wanted to do over the future decades with the eventual creation of AKM, that kit would  not be in the USA today!

This is the end of part one of this two part story. Part 2 will be shared later this week. Please visit again and PLEASE SUPPORT AEROKNOW MUSEUM. Correspondence to is welcome.

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NEW – a page above that lists SURPLUS history books

Please visit the book surplus page and e-mail me if you  see items you want to read.

Have a nice day!!



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Two Straws Which Almost Broke My Camel’s Back

For the past year I’ve been fighting the compulsion to share the following tale. That it happened at all astounds me.  It begins with a woman I call Burlee. We almost became friends soon after she moved to Springfield. When I told her I needed a volunteer who could be present in the AeroKnow Museum office while I worked on projects upstairs, she agreed to help. The hope was that if someone wandered into the Welcome Room office just off the FBO lobby, Burlee would briefly explain what AKM is all about, offer a brochure that explained a few details and offer to escort the visitor upstairs “to meet the director and see the rest of the museum.” She agreed to do that.  What she did between visitors would be her choice. There were dozens of books and magazines within arms’ reach at my desk. She could use the AKM computer to work on business of her own. I had nothing to hide on the computer.

On her first day volunteering I was productively  engaged in the upstairs Intake Room, with mo concerns about my new friend . . . .so you can imagine my surprise when I glanced out a window to the parking lot and saw her entering her car and driving away!  She hadn’t bothered to come up and let me know she was leaving!  Dashing down to the office, I found the door wide open. Anyone could have  “liberated” any items — books, pictures, cameras, models — they wanted! That’s when the previous positive beginning began to go south.

At the time, I was the long-time producer of a pilots’ club newsletter. I enjoyed being a member, donating my time and talent. Some club members were kind, in turn, to AKM. They  donated magazines,  airplane rides, and their convivial fellowship. The organization donated a considerable sum which allowed me to purchase bricks and glass shelves for models during the early months, when I was setting up displays in the Welcome Room.  After Burlee’s departure without letting me know, we kept our distance at pilots’ club dinner meetings, and I stopped attending regularly.  A few days after a meeting I had not attended, a friend (a real one) let me know how Burlee had raked me over the coals, describing some typo errors in the newsletter and more, all of which gave the impression  I was something of a brain-deficient dunderhead.  I didn’t say anything in my defense because that would have cast her in an uncomplimentary light. It was obvious she could be a more significant asset to the club than I, with so much of my time devoted to developing AKM.  My speaking out would not have advanced the greater interests of the club, and my friends who were members would have resented only me. I DID resign from my role as newsletter producer. Burlee became the new one.

Later in the year I found myself dismayed at the apparent theft of some rare aviation magazines from the Magazines Room upstairs. It tore me up trying imagine who might have stolen them and why. I had never locked to doors up there, but I hired a locksmith to re-key every room.  One morning when I noticed Burlee, reading a magazine in the passenger lounge across the hall, I decided to let her know I was aware the magazines were missing. It would have been rude for me to accuse her because I had no clue, no evidence. So I didn’t accuse  her. I asked “Do you know who took those magazines?” She said she didn’t, and that was that. I believed her. Days later I learned “through the grape vine” — I have REAL friends on the grape vine — that she announced at the pilots’ club meet that I had ACCUSED her of taking them! THAT was a LIE. Her antic generated more disappointment from people I had considered my FRIENDS!

A few months later while working on a project in the Welcome Room, I suddenly realized that a rare squadron insignia I had displayed for years on a nearby shelf was GONE! That of course brought more despair, hopelessness and depression! I asked the FBO service crew at the reception counter 10 feet from my office door if they had seen anyone enter and  leave the room in a hurry. I was told that no one had seen anyone enter or leave during my brief absence when I visited the men’s room down the hall.  I was reminded that it really wasn’t part of their duties to monitor traffic to and from my office. Okay.  I was just asking a simple question. I had intended no offense.

Six months later while showing a visitor some old airplane magazines upstairs , I lifted a short stack of publications from a shelf and discovered the really rare ones I thought had been stolen! I was overjoyed! I was privately embarrassed over the fact that my  jumping to the wrong had been so brainless of me.  Perhaps Burlee’s lying about my conduct and bumpkin mentality had been more deserved than I had thought!

Later in the year — last December — I was relocating AeroKnow Museum offices from that beloved, cherished location in the lobby at the front of the building to a hall in the back of the building.  It was a slow process, performed — as with nearly  everything else connected with AKM — solo.  I was lifting a sheaf of papers from a top shelf when  I discovered the long-lost squadron insignia I thought had been swiped!
I was mortified and delighted in the same instant.

A regular gentleman such as I would have naturally. . . rightfully . . .  logically shared the joys of re-discovery of materials I thought “cone forever” with those who knew of those “losses” and, in own venomous ways, had lied and labeled me something not much more than a jackal.

I didn’t let them know.  I never apologized to Burlee.  I’m being the wrong end of a horse over this because, after all she was the wrong end of a horse FIRST — when she abandoned my office without letting me know she was leaving. . . when she disparaged my ability  as a writer by pointing typos . . . and by accusing me  of doing something she knew I did not do.

(For the record, ever since, I have always proofread everything I’ve written for public consumption. )

I believe I can never be friends with the pilots’ club people again. This saddens me greatly. I’ve known a few of them since the 1970s. When we see each other at the airport we say “hello” and leave it at that.

I’ve learned that arriving out here at the museum in a mentally defensive frame of mind, with my guard up, expecting  more challenges to my competence and composure, changes he way I regard some people whom I encounter  frequently.  I’m trying to loosen up, to not be so ready to be offended by folks who don’t want to offend me.  The effort is working, slowly but surely, a day at a time.

Life goes on.

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Late July UPDATE

It’s been too long since posting here.  AKM is still going in the back hallway and upstairs at the Stellar Aviation FBO at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.  I spend hours here  seven days a week.  I’ve not published a Lincoln Flyer  newsletter for the same reason I’ve not posted here for so long:  I don’t  have a  block of time large enough to commit to the task.  Starting today, I’m  contributing to this  blog with smaller “blocks”

I continue posting daily at the AeroKnow Museum Day to Day blog where I also post pictures of aircraft and visitors to AKM the previous day.

I’ve decided to organize the negatives that have received no attention for the past 40 years.  A new Epson Perfection V550 was  purchased, thanks to support from Mark Houpt of Lincoln, Illinois.  Other challenges await near-term resolution.  I  must replace the Sony Mavica point & shoot, which I loved, which has broken.  My financial distress (no income from vacant half of my duplex home where I live and inconsistent hours at part-time employer)  prevent me from buying a replacement. In better years past, I would have bought a new camera out  of  pocket.  I need to replace the Mavica because my 35mm DSLR, a wonderful  Canon Eos 20D has collected considerable dust in the camera body, 35 to 70mm lens and 70 – 300 mm lens.  I cannot afford to have that equipment cleaned.  I am happy with the Canon.. I neither need nor want a new DSLR and lenses. I just want it dustless inside.  I need your support ($$$) to do what needs to be done.

I am in terrific health. My recent physical indicated that m blood chemistry, blood pressure and heart are good. At 190 pounds the beer belly is gone permanently.   I’ve not weighed 190 since early college.  I eat one meal a day most days, my reward at day’s end for having prevailed over another day. That helps with the weight issue.

STILL no success to report recruiting a dependable volunteer or two out here. As AeroKnow Museum continues an unhappy process of downsizing in the year to come, I need help moving book cases and filing cabinets. I can’t do this solo, and I can’t hire help because I need to eat at least once a day. The rest of my income goes to paying off a major loan, a 15 year-old bill for the roof o the house, and medical bills I have too-long  neglected. But life goes on.

That’s the story from here for now. Look for another post about this time next Saturday, August  5, a month from my 70th birthday.

Thanks for reading this post.

Have a good day.


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Until I was instructed last October to relocate my AeroKnow Museum office from the very visible room just off the lobby at Horizon Aviation to a larger “suite” of rooms in the back of the building,  the future of this museum was bright. I knew the building that  contained AKM would be demolished “some day” and a new one would be erected.  I was told the new facility would include space for AKM (not as much as I had occupied from the start) and our  future was secure.

The relocation to the back of the building has drastically changed the outlook for success. At first, no permission was given for a sign in the lobby inviting visitors to the FBO to walk to  the end of the hall, through the large office of another business , and into the hall where AKM’s entrance was the first door on the left. Installation of a portable sign on a movable pedestal has brought a few visitors to us, but just a fraction of that previously engaged at the old lobby office.
AKsign-17a-3AKsign-17a -4
Recently, I learned that the promised space in the new building probably will not be made available.  At about the same time I was advised that the materials in the seven rooms upstairs here will need to removed starting in June, and it would be wise for me to start moving it out NOW. So, for the past week, I have been doing that a few boxes at a time, also packing boxes with resources to relocate to my  home. The weather has not cooperated with this effort.  Neither has my growing despair.

For any chance of sustaining AeroKnow Museum  we are reducing the scope of our focus and committing to following:
1. Eliminating all files of articles and literature relating to foreign built aircraft which have not flown significantly  in the USA. We are holding on to the AV-8 files and jettisoning the files of those manufactured in Great Britain.  We are keeping DeHavilland Beaver material and discarding Avro CF-100 files.

Additional re-focus efforts will be explained in a series of daily posts the week of April 3 to April 8.  In the meantime we have the following resources available to not-for-profit organizations with proven commitment to educating the public about aviation history.
1. Four drawer file cabinets — $10 each.
2. Articles about home-built airplanes, US and foreign. The material is FREE.
3. Articles about air forces, airlines, airports (outside Illinois), combat groups, aviation  people. FREE.
4. Books chronologies of aviation history. Too much to catalog; I’m just one man. FREE to organizations.
5. Monographs ( books, hard and soft-bound) about foreign built airplanes.
6. Articles and books about human space flight, US and foreign.

If you know organizations who might benefit from these resources, please have their principals contact Job Conger by e-maill or conventional mail. Email is   Mailing address  is AeroKnow Museum, 900  N. Capital Airport Drive, Springfield, IL 62707

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