Kings Cliffe, England’s Barry Tempest Visits AKM

On Sunday, November 5, as I arrived in the Stellar Aviation  lobby on my way to AeroKnow Museum (AKM) down the hall, I was delighted to be greeted by long-time friend Barry Tempest of Kings Cliffe, England. I had been looking forward to seeing him since he shared advance notice of his plan to visit earlier this year. Somehow, I had spent the previous week totally unmindful of the day of his planned arrival. He had emailed his itinerary to friends, but I simply paid insufficient attention. What brought him back to the colonies for his fourth visit was his promise to attend his dear friend’s wedding in Wisconsin. From there he would drive (brave soul) south to Springfield and then to points east before returning home.

The AKM I showed him for the  following several hours was different from what he would  have seen had he come about this time in 2016. A gradual reconsideration of the museum’s  mission and how to accomplish it followed notice of the approaching renovation of the FBO (fixed base operations) facilities here at the airport.  The offices area where we are “installed” and two adjacent hangars are slated for demolition in the coming year, coincident with the change, in late 2016, of facility management. The area shared with AKM by Landmark Aviation, later the locally owned Horizon Aviation, was re-allocated and we were told AKM must find a new “home” in 2018. AKM was invited to leave the highly visible office that  opened to the FBO lobby and move into what, in some ways, has proven to be even nicer accommodation down, down, down the hall.  Concurrent and since that move, AKM made other adjustments which will be described in another post here, probably in December.

Barry  (as Britons say) was “VERY KEEN” on having a “proper picture” of his cap, so after taking the leading picture above,  I was happy to take a closer look . . .

He explained his  justifiably righteous pride  in looking forward to being the only octogenarian to fly in next year’s Vintage Aerobatics World Championships. This year he finished 11th from the large field who competed for glory. He flew a friend’s Stampe SV-4. Click on any pictures which follow for larger images. Captions will follow below.

Our first stop in the tour was the Models on Display Room where 1/72, 1/144 and 1/48 models are displayed. The book Springfield Aviation from Arcadia Publishing was
authored by yours truly,  Job Conger, founder AeroKnow Museum . The large DC-9 model was donated by a local travel agency who supports AKM.  When he visited my home in 2004, Barry saw many of these models in humbler surroundings, and he was please to see them displayed as they deserve to be.

We also visited the AKM Welcome Room, which is usually the first room encountered, host of a gallery/repository of thousands of photographs preserved and displayed and  the  true “operations room” of AKM. We were  so busy chatting, I totally forgot to reach for my  camera. Pictures above were taken on the second floor. In the hallway ( left) the display of advertising loaned by a Springfield supporter caught his attention. “THAT is the advertisement that led to my taking up cigarettes,” he said smiling as he posed for a snap.  Right top was taken in our evolving  Reading Room. For the moment books have not yet been relocated here from the room at the far end of the hall. The 1/32 scale models did attract his attention. In the Surplus Room where material in  excess to the evolving museum are deposited, Barry found this paperback  edition of  French ace Pierre Closterman’s classic The Big Show  of interest, the first US edition  he had seen. AKM has the hardback first edition, so this book became the first of a few souvenirs he would take home with him, my gift to my friend. Closterman gained great fame with the Royal Air Force flying Hawker TEMPESTS! No wonder he likes the book!
He found two kits of the Beechcraft 17 Staggerwing, one of his favorite (favourite, if you’re an Englishperson) airplanes (aeroplanes if you’re an Englishman) and took pictures.  He was fully  aware that if he wanted to take home everything he wanted to take, there would have been no room on the flight home for HIM. So the Stagger’ kits remain at AKM.

We next visited AeroKnow Museum’s Kits Room, probably the closest we get to a “circus ride” for model builders, unanimously heralded by visitors as what they’d want to have if they were stranded on  a dessert island. We could have spent an hour in this room alone and probably came close. Barry noticed an extra kit of a Polikarpov Po-2 and mentioned a woman friend who flies a restored example of that classic flying machine. He wanted it so  much he spoke those five  magic words I love to hear — “I WANT TO BUY THIS” and he took it home with him. The Frog kit of the Spitfire is EARLYearly injection molded plastic model kit which  I acquired from England probably 35 years ago, and it was old at that time. It’s an ultra-rare piece of history, and if I  had not known, decades ago,  what I wanted to do over the future decades with the eventual creation of AKM, that kit would  not be in the USA today!

This is the end of part one of this two part story. Part 2 will be shared later this week. Please visit again and PLEASE SUPPORT AEROKNOW MUSEUM. Correspondence to is welcome.

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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