On September 28, Abe Lincoln’s Air Force recruited its first visiting pilot member, a fellow who’s based in northern Illinois, who visits Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (SPI) twice a month or so flying charter customers to the Capital City. John Blum flies full-time for a national airline. We met about a month ago when he had flown his Cessna 401 to SPI and was waiting for his passengers to return from town. Time was short that first visit, but I showed him the essentials in the office — the photo collection, the scanner, the models on shelves and in kits on public display and the Springfield and Illinois files. He gave me his card and promised to visit again. He proved a man of his word.
He explained he had flown his Mooney Mk. 20 down and had more time to visit, this time. He gladly agreed to let me take some pictures of his 20 and pointed out some mods that make this bird unique.
In addition to the frameless windshield, which is a little bit slicker in the air and provides nominally better visibility, his bird flies with wing-mounted speed brakes that pop out of the top about where the spar is and allow landing approaches at slower speeds while maintaining higher engine RPM, lessening the risk of shock-cooling the engine on descent. There are smaller mods that give John almost the equivalent of a more modern 201, and he thoroughly enjoys the airplane.
After the photos, we returned to the museum, and because he seems a likely candidate for membership in Abe Lincoln’s Air Force, showed him the research room (still in disarray as I get it organized) and model room (also not ready for prime time). In the latter, I showed him a 1/48 scale model of an F-4J which I keep to show visitors a model I will never display downstairs in part because of mis-application of national insignia on the wings. “What’s wrong with this model?” I asked. “The wings didn’t have the star insignia,” he replied. “Oh, but they did,” I said. “They were applied to the upper left wing; not the upper right wing.” He said, “Job, I flew Phantoms in the navy, and mine didn’t have anything on the upper wings.” I said “Let me show you how memory can play tricks on a good man,” and we went to the research room where I pulled one of the USN/MC F-4 files and showed him. “You’re absolutely right,” he said, smiling. Then we looked at the Mooney Mark 20 files which I had organized in the file drawers just the day before. Among the things this Mooney owner learned were that Mooney DID build an airplane with fixed landing gear and that a Mooney flew around the world, many years ago. “I’ve never seen so much information about Mooneys in one place in my life,” he said.
On the way back to the Museum office, he handed me a $20 bill and told me he wanted to join Abe Lincoln’s Air Force. “You’ve taught me somethings I didn’t know,” he said. “Every time I visit in the future and you teach me something, I’ll join your air force again, meaning that he will similarly support AeroKnow Museum in the future. Given the support needed for this enterprise, I could do this dozens of times a day for hundreds of visitors a day.
Back in the office, I gave John a membership application, membership card and promised to have his custom-printed membership certificate, suitable for framing, waiting for him when he visits next time. He returned to reading magazines in the lobby and I returned to indexing magazines in the office where today, his membership certificate, suitable for framing, awaits his return. If he’s flying the Cessna 401, I will take pictures of it and share them here.
Thanks to that happy encounter, I am convinced that as word gets around, we will welcome more “John Blums” to AeroKnow Museum. It was a pleasure showing him around, and I look forward to his return.
In the meantime, if you’d like to “drop in” just e me ( email@example.com ) or call a day ahead of your ETA so I can confirm I will be around.
CAVU and happy landings to all . . . .