I Must Get Methodical with This Museum

It’s Saturday afternoon October 11 about 2:40. I’m still smiling1 about 18 hours after a terrific meeting of Central Illinois Plastic Modelers club which the AeroKnow Museum helps host twice a month here at Horizon Aviation. Before the meeting, one of the sharpest members and strongest supporters donated 45 model kits and kits in progress to AKM. Other CIPM members have done like wise, but not 45 at a time. The donation really got my attention. I’ve decided I must focus on developing a more disciplined, routine with how I spend (sometimes) up to 16 hours a day out here.

An inordinate amount of time is spent processing photographs and even what I spend in a typical eight-hour day is far from enough time to “do what needs to be done..I’ve totally neglected moving pics from the hard drive to an organized and growing collection of CDs. That task, plus processing and editing up to 25 pictures some days, could consume 4 hours a day, and I might catch up by next July 4. On days when I don’t take pictures, I also don’t transfer pictures to CDs, and I do other things which also sap my time and energy from what MUST be higher priorities.

The greatest is for me to FINISH the book I promised Connie Strouse I would produce about her father John Thornton Walker. Before AKM was located at the airport, she and her family could not have been kinder in sharing the story of JTW with scanned pictures, newspaper articles, documents and more. Later she and her husband Bill donated countless photos and artifacts to AKM where they are prominently displayed. I have come up shamefully short in making good on my promise to write a book I intend to self-publish about him. Three or four times a year, I’m asked “How are things coming with the book?” I FEAR that one day I”ll pick up the phone and hear something like, “Hello, Job. This is Connie. We’re on our way over to pick up everything we donated to your little museum, so start getting it together. I’ll see you in an hour.” So far, it’s not happened. But the fear under my fanny gets hotter every time I think about it. I MUST get cracking here.

Another pressing need is to organize and file countless articles and clippings which have piled up for the past two years. At my employer, I pend sometimes four hours of a six-hour work day, five days a week engaging first steps in the process — culling articles and pages from whole donated magazines — and initially sorting them by subject matter: airplanes, people, combat groups, airlines, models, and human space flight. I carry the results back to AKM in boxes to the Intake Room at AKM where further sorting happens with the goal of getting specific articles and clippings into specific files in specific locations here. Everything about mass-built and one-off airplanes, plus racers goes to the Research Room. Everything else goes to the Miscellaneous and Books Room at the far end of the hall, what for years was the Operations Office for our world-famous Springfield Air Rendezvous air show. This includes homebuilt airplanes,  people, airlines combat groups and civil organizations, airlines, and miscellaneous subjects that range from ack-ack to poems about aviation, future predictions,  about 60 others. I’ve devoted too much time away from the JTW book for this, and not even the time devoted has been nearly enough.

Where I have not spent much time is probably where you expect I’ve spent the most: building model airplanes. The only time I’ve touched a model airplane to work on it, by  and large, has been during meetings of Central Illinois Plastic Modelers club. This must also change for the better.

One reason it must change is the need to make AKM a place to visit to enjoy more than a guided tour. One of three projects now in process toward that end is our Chronolgy of Flight Room where we will have a space uncompromised by desks, boxes of stored snapshots, reference books and digital photo storage. Models  in 1/72, 1/48 and 1/32 scales will be displayed from entry to end in the chronological order in which they were part of then-current aviation. Shelves will be glass between concrete blocks with appropriate signs as they are in the WELCOME Room on the ground floor. The second project in process is the DVD/VCR and Reading room. Visitors will check out books and moving media to enjoy in the room and then check them back in when they are finished. Finally we are putting together a real gift shop for offering unique aviation merchandise for sale. Credit card customers will be about to purchase and donate to AKM via credit card.

My plan this Saturday, October 11, is to devote percentages of time to  tasks which demand my undivided. Instead of  processing every airplane picture I take on October 12, I will process them only two or three days a week. I will know when I arrive here on Sunday how long I will be here. Then I will commit to a realistic allocation of time for each targeted task, and I will honor the commitment.  Sunday’s schedule is as follows:
8 to 8:30 — email and Facebook
8:30 to 11:30  — John Thornton Walker book
11:30 to 1:30 — Intake Room
1:30 to 2 — lunch and check Facebook & email
2 to 3:30 — modeling
3:30 to 5 — process photos
5 to 6:3o — filing  in Miscellaneous Room
6:30 — Go HOME — It’s SUNDAY for goodness; sake!

Drop in visitors — passengers and pilots just arrived, eager to look around AKM — are the unpredictable elements whose time here will delay whatever activity is in progress when they walk through the door.

Weekdays promise to be more of a challenge because I have an employer to engage. Some good supporters have shared their hope that what AKM could really use is a full-time director, and I agree. I would leave him in a heartbeat if I could eat and pay for the heat. To do that, I need $1,500 a month from donations. Obtaining historical materials for AKM has not been an issue for the past few years.  Finding volunteers to help has been “the impossible dream.”

Your constructive ideas about any thoughts shared here are welcome.

Thanks for reading this post.






About Job Conger

I am a freelance aviation, business and tourism writer, poet, songwriter. My journalism appears regularly in Springfield Business Journal and Illinois Times. I am author of Springfield Aviation from Arcadia Publishing and available everywhere. As founder/director of AeroKnow Museum (AKM) and a volunteer with American Aviation Historical Society (AAHS), I created this blog to share news about AKM activity and aviation history.
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