Before leaving Spooky, I took a picture of the firepower on the port side of the cabin. Visitors to the weekend veterans’ gathering would not be “touring” the inside.
The first place were directed to park Big Bird was, on second look, not the best place for free movement of aircraft onto the ramp from nearby T-hangars, so Captain and Co fired up the engines and re-positioned her.
Lou, the Grimes Field manager, warmly welcomed us to his flyground.
Other curious native denizens for the area also welco9med us and were invited to visit the spacious interior. The fellow in the blue shirt was a radio operator on USAF C-47s in Europe i the 50s. He was curious to see if we still had a radio room behind the cockpit. After his visit inside, he reported his former position was still there — behind a wall and shelves for radio gear behind the co-pilot — but there was no radio equipment. In this modern age, the gents in the FRONT office take care of communication themselves.
Chuck had arranged for the local Enterprise Rent-A-Car business to have a car waiting for us about 2 pm. We would grab some lunch at the airport diner and be back in Springfield with time to spare. He and Keith headed for the admin offices and cafe. I stayed with the airplane awhile and talked with visitors. By the time I rejoined inside, they had finished their lunch, and told me the airport would buy mine was well.
This is the admin building, also home of the diner. The view is what arriving pilots see when taxying in.
The cuisine is prime airport style. The ladies were friendly and courteous.
I was impressed by the coffee and the cup, very informative about local places for visitors to check out while visiting this most excellent storybook kind of town, about 30 miles south of Springfield, Ohio.
The diner waitress on the right explained that fairly often, visiting pilots offer her airplane rides around the pea patch. That’s nifty. I envied her. Obvious from the clock on the wall,, the car Chuck had arranged to be present in the parking lot when we arrived . . . . . . . did not happen. Chuck drove an airport car to Urbana and arranged for us to have the best car on their “lot” for the trip home.
High on my “to do list” was to tour the Champaign Air Museum, a fairly short hike down the airport grounds from the Airport Cafe.
This sign, facing the ramp, greeting arriving aircrews and friends in front of admin and Cafe is a nice touch. I had visited the museum a few years ago during a delightful occasion when I was part of the dedication of the renovated Johnny Appleseed Museum at the local college. I was eager to return.
I returned to “Spooky” to check with Keith to see how much time we had. He explained Chuck was in Urbana getting a car for us, didn’t know how long he’d be. I explained I was going to fast-walk down to have a fast look and take pictures.
Here’s the view of the museum from just above the runway as we landed.
Later I photographed this view from the highway side of the airport. The C-45 and roadside sign are very well done.
The Douglas A-26 had been modified for service in Canada as a agricultural spray aircraft. All the specialty gear for that role had been removed. It appeared exactly as I remembered it from my first encounter almost 10 years ago.
Only the fabric-covered rudder has suffered significantly fro exposure to weather. The Canadian civil registration letters, which had been painted at the top of the vertical stabilizer had been painted over in basic black.
I had been told by an airport admin gentleman that everyone involved with the Champaign Air Museum was in a membership meeting. He was not certain the rest of the museum was even open. But he offered to deliver me on his golf cart to the front of the museum, and we could find out. I gladly accepted his offer.
Fortunately, for the sake of wandering photographers, the registration under the left wing had not been painted over.
interesting nose art below the cockpit on the left side
I knew I was running out of time, and I didn’t want Chuck and Keith to have to come looking for me so we could “westward ho.” My time inside Champaign Air Museum was less than ten minutes and I took only a few pictures. Those pictures, and more from the rest of my visit to the Grimes aircraft lighting array in the ramp-side of their offices, and the details of our journey homeward will be shared in part four of our saga.
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.