About the picture at the top: After leaving AeroKnow Museum early into the evening, Barry and I visited the great American supermarket Hy-Vee on a mission of mercy: mercy for him because because he was out of cigarettes (Marlboro) and mercy for me because I was out of wine. Barry picked up the check for our tasty, unhurried dinner at Dynasty restaurant near my home. I had the Strawberry Chicken It had been a few years since I last dined there, and I had forgotten how nice it is. I must go back soon — as soon as I can find another friend with the financial wherewithal to pick up the check! Then is was off to my home, soon to be called AKM428 as materials presently at the airport are being moved to my living room and basement. Barry posed in the soon-to-be AKM Reading Room. Worth noting: the portrait on the left is me, drawn by internationally-known artist Ned Chase (friend of Mom and Dad) when I was about four years old. On the book shelf is a 1950 Aircraft Recognition publication, and an empty Hawk Model Company kit box of the first and only American-made kit of the British Gloster Javelin all-weather interceptor. I had built that kit as a 12 year old. Because I had forgotten Barry would be in Springfield the 4th & 5th, I had not picked up and cleaned my home so it was a place of disarray en extremis, He was too kind to be outwardly disturbed by the grossly inexcusable “war zone,” and we muddled through okay. We return now to the ambling at AeroKnow Museum earlier in the day.
Pic top left was taken in AKM’s Books & Miscellaneous Room where our books and files of miscellaneous subjects (air shows, airports, airlines people, modeling articles) were maintained. As recently as 2006 the room was the office of Springfield Air Rendezvous, a major regional air show from 1983 to 2006. Behind Barry is a Bush/Cheney 2004 election bumper sticker which the airshow manager had displayed. I had left the bumper sticker in place in the implicit home that the former manager would return and take it home, She never found time to visit AKM, but if she defies the odds and comes a calling., she may have it. The poster by artist Steve Venters was produced for the 1985 event. I had some left, and was happy to give two to the well-esteemed world traveler.
More history drew us to the Periodicals Room across the hall.. There, Barry examined issues of the Luftwaffe WWII propaganda magazine Der Adler (Stuka on the cover) and others dating back to 1910. Over the years I have collected some (not many) LIFE Magazines and was amazed to share the September 21, 1939 issue with him, inviting him to leisurely page through it. Being able to connect that issue with gentleman Tempest was an incredible honor for me.
In the course of our conversation, Barry shared his admiration for American Hollywood stars who risked their lives away from cozy movieland to participate in the shooting war in Europe. Clark Gable flew a tour as gunner with a B-17 unit. James Stewart rose through the ranks initially piloting B-24s and commanding a group. Again, wonderful coincidence: we found a LIFE which featured a cover photo and story of Stewart’s return to the USA in September 1945. I promised to scan the cover and story and send it to him. Photographing it may be the better option here at AKMSPI.
At home, after the delightful Dynasty dinner, Barry took a picture of the beverage purchased earlier at Hy-Vee so he could show his friends in England what REAL WINE — Carlo Rossi’s California Burgundy in a U.S.-gallon glass jug) — LOOKS LIKE (ha ha ha)! What can I say? On my income, my “friend” Mr. Rossi is the best deal I can pour into a glass, and sometimes I can’t afford THAT. Barry bought the jug when I introduced him to it at the store, and we shared it — in moderation — for the rest of the evening.
My furnace was still broken during his visit, but the sleeping bad he had donated to AKM during his previous visit kept him warm as he slept on the “house sofa.” We arose for the day at 6 am, and by the time we made it out to my Dodge Caravan, the sun had arrived for the occasion. This is the last picture I took during his incredible visit.
In the course of just under 24 hours we packed in more convivial, constructive,, educational conversation than I have savored with another hummin’ bean in 10 years or more. Barry shared suggestions in the hope that they might help keep AeroKnow Museum VIABLE as an asset to historic aviation. He also promised to write an article about his visit to the USA with due attention to my little rodeo at the airport. The happy fact that this internationally known professional pilot, air show performer and retired British aviation administrator found significant MERIT to what’s going on here SHINES in bright contrast to my ongoing incapacity to find solutions from Springfield and central Illinois citizens, people who by all logic, would be most inclined to keep wheels turning here. His visit has infused my heart and soul with renewed resolve to seek solutions. With his help . . . . and YOUR help, I hope . . . . .in the months to come we will FIND them.
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