The question of the moment was: Since (the airport golf cart driver explained) everyone connected to the Champaign Aviation Museum was in the middle of a membership meeting, would they also have locked the front door on the public side of the security fence? With his gate pass card. it was a short drive to the front of the museum where I successfully opened the door and thanked my new friend for his hospitality. For the next five minutes in that beautiful facility I fast-walked around the exhibits like I had ants in my pants. I could probably have been arrested for how fast I covered the floor space, and for darn few pictures . . . .
The star of this show is the B-17 “Champaign Lady” which is being restored from FIVE different B-17s, using the best parts from partially intact aircraft and fabricating new parts where possible. I had visited the project about five years ago. I was amazed (again) by the quality of craftsmanship throughout!
I could feel the minutes going by at Mach 1.5 as I set up views for max results like this.
and this. The Cheyenne tail turret used by 17s built late in the production run. The museum has a lot on the ball to place this component in a more open area where the public can look it over closely without interfering with the work being done on the fuselage and rest of the airplane.
The brown boxes just inside held .50 calibre ammunition for the tail guns. The DC-3 is dedicated to a special pilot who is a local legend.
Note the B-17 wing tip in the foreground here. The Stinson 108 is getting lots of TLC during its restoration.
Information about the local hero connected to the Douglas is nicely displayed. I regret that I didn’t take a brochure. If I ever get a chance to travel back to Urbana, Ohio and Champaign Aviation Museum, you can bet I will skip lunch to have some real quality time in this wonderful facility.
I knew time was of the essence, that Keith knew where I was, but I did not want to inconvenience him and Chuck by lingering longer than absolutely necessary. As I started to head back to “Spooky,” I detoured long enough to take a few more pictures near the building . . .
The Beech C-45 shows some wear from the weather. It really attracts the attention of travelers passing by!
It was an easy walk back to “Spooky” at the opposite end of the drive shown here culminating at CAM. Keith told me my timing was good. Chuck was on his way back with the rental car. Happily I was able to visit the open hangar of theGrimes aircraft lighting operation just a few yards from our big bird.
The Grimes people were preparing for the big veterans event. Their Twin Beech was used for testing their products in years past. Today it’s a flying museum.
I understand that on a dark night with this bird in flight and lights lit, you can see this airplane from Alaska.
With staff’s permission, I left AeroKnow Museum brochures on their display tables; also left several on the front counter of the airport offices across the lobby from the fine cafe.
Chuck pulled into the airport parking lot with the rental car as I exited the Grimes hanger, and in a few minutes, Keith and I joined him. It was a delight seeing Urbana for the first time in about four years.
We traveled back to Springfield in this luxury Cadillac. Keith rode shotgun. I had the spacious back seat. What a machine!
This is the ring leader at the wheel as we transited downtown heading west. I simply wanted to capture a glimpse of this small city. It could be “Anywhere USA” but it’s a special place to me. 🙂
It was a fine journey home. The car’s computer/voice talked to driver and navigator as much as we talked to each other. I’m not used to being interrupted by a computer, but if the opportunity ever arises again, to share more of it with the intrepid airmen courtesy of Chuck, Keith and “Spooky” Squadron of Topeka, you can be sure I will be good to go. As the sun set I took the following to pictures. Thanks again for a terrific Wednesday!
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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