Long Lost but FOUND

This year I’ve spent a lot of time darn-near devastated (but nominally functioning) over two thefts from AeroKnow Museum. The first one involved the loss of several issues of Der Adler German World War II aviation propaganda magazines. Here are some pictures of a few of them I took before they disappeared from the Magazines Room. Those priceless seven issues will never come back. Even writing about their theft sickens me to the core!

Last week, another item I considered LOST was FOUND. It was a pressure.applied decal of the 18rd Tactical Fighter Group. I noticed the empty space where it had been during a cordial conversation with a visitor in uniform. My surprise and dismay suddenly affected my speech with him, as though invisible hands were wrapped around my neck and choking me. Clumsily I stopped talking mid-sentence, tried to clear my voice and thanked him for stopping by. After he left I almost dashed over to the shelf where the decal had been and looked for it. I should have been able to see it if it had simply slid down the wall, but nothing was visible. A Snoopy astronaut doll which had propped up the decal lay on its side, a sure sign of foul play. I was crushed. Asked the crew at the FBO counter if they had seen anyone enter or leave my office during the brief time I had taken to photograph a Cessna Citation through the fence about an hour before. The answer was “no,” and that led me to conclude, perhaps in error, that an acquaintance I had seen that morning sitting at a table in the TV lounge across the hall from my open door had taken it when I would outside with the camera. A call to airport security to report the theft led to nothing. There was no clue. For the past three months, I’ve mourned the loss of that artifact every time, while sitting at my desk I would look at the empty space on the wall where it had been for years . . . . . until last week.

While re-arranging a shelf near the bottom of my desk-side book case, I encountered a sheaf of about eight single-page documents that had fallen backward and down the inside back of the shelves to the bottom.  As I examined them, I discovered one “document” was the 183rd Tactical Fighter Group decal! It was in fine shape, no folds or creasing or crunching.  Seconds after finding it and saying a silent prayer of THANKS to Divine Omniscience, I photographed it. Then I decided not to publicize my good fortune.  I concluded that I didn’t want the “deletable,  despicable expletive” who had (by my theory) stolen it and then returned it and HIDDEN it where I would not likely find it for months, maybe years . . . . I did not want that “poison” to know I had found it. Didn’t want her to come back and steal it again!  I knew that if she did, I’d NEVER see it again. About a week later I changed my mind.

I began to realize that placing that decal on a shelf, not returning to  it soon after, forgetting I HAD  PUT IT THERE, and then becoming terribly distressed when, and since, discovering it GONE, was the kind of mistake I could have MADE!  The deletable, despicable expletive I had been looking for was ME.

I am fallible.  It’s important for people I know and like, with whom I shared my distress over this, to know it was my incapacity that let to all the hand-wringing. I have the decal “back.”

But just to be on the safe side, I will be displaying it elsewhere here at the museum, and this time . . . it will be under glass and further away from the door than it was before!

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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