Two Straws Which Almost Broke My Camel’s Back

For the past year I’ve been fighting the compulsion to share the following tale. That it happened at all astounds me.  It begins with a woman I call Burlee. We almost became friends soon after she moved to Springfield. When I told her I needed a volunteer who could be present in the AeroKnow Museum office while I worked on projects upstairs, she agreed to help. The hope was that if someone wandered into the Welcome Room office just off the FBO lobby, Burlee would briefly explain what AKM is all about, offer a brochure that explained a few details and offer to escort the visitor upstairs “to meet the director and see the rest of the museum.” She agreed to do that.  What she did between visitors would be her choice. There were dozens of books and magazines within arms’ reach at my desk. She could use the AKM computer to work on business of her own. I had nothing to hide on the computer.

On her first day volunteering I was productively  engaged in the upstairs Intake Room, with mo concerns about my new friend . . . .so you can imagine my surprise when I glanced out a window to the parking lot and saw her entering her car and driving away!  She hadn’t bothered to come up and let me know she was leaving!  Dashing down to the office, I found the door wide open. Anyone could have  “liberated” any items — books, pictures, cameras, models — they wanted! That’s when the previous positive beginning began to go south.

At the time, I was the long-time producer of a pilots’ club newsletter. I enjoyed being a member, donating my time and talent. Some club members were kind, in turn, to AKM. They  donated magazines,  airplane rides, and their convivial fellowship. The organization donated a considerable sum which allowed me to purchase bricks and glass shelves for models during the early months, when I was setting up displays in the Welcome Room.  After Burlee’s departure without letting me know, we kept our distance at pilots’ club dinner meetings, and I stopped attending regularly.  A few days after a meeting I had not attended, a friend (a real one) let me know how Burlee had raked me over the coals, describing some typo errors in the newsletter and more, all of which gave the impression  I was something of a brain-deficient dunderhead.  I didn’t say anything in my defense because that would have cast her in an uncomplimentary light. It was obvious she could be a more significant asset to the club than I, with so much of my time devoted to developing AKM.  My speaking out would not have advanced the greater interests of the club, and my friends who were members would have resented only me. I DID resign from my role as newsletter producer. Burlee became the new one.

Later in the year I found myself dismayed at the apparent theft of some rare aviation magazines from the Magazines Room upstairs. It tore me up trying imagine who might have stolen them and why. I had never locked to doors up there, but I hired a locksmith to re-key every room.  One morning when I noticed Burlee, reading a magazine in the passenger lounge across the hall, I decided to let her know I was aware the magazines were missing. It would have been rude for me to accuse her because I had no clue, no evidence. So I didn’t accuse  her. I asked “Do you know who took those magazines?” She said she didn’t, and that was that. I believed her. Days later I learned “through the grape vine” — I have REAL friends on the grape vine — that she announced at the pilots’ club meet that I had ACCUSED her of taking them! THAT was a LIE. Her antic generated more disappointment from people I had considered my FRIENDS!

A few months later while working on a project in the Welcome Room, I suddenly realized that a rare squadron insignia I had displayed for years on a nearby shelf was GONE! That of course brought more despair, hopelessness and depression! I asked the FBO service crew at the reception counter 10 feet from my office door if they had seen anyone enter and  leave the room in a hurry. I was told that no one had seen anyone enter or leave during my brief absence when I visited the men’s room down the hall.  I was reminded that it really wasn’t part of their duties to monitor traffic to and from my office. Okay.  I was just asking a simple question. I had intended no offense.

Six months later while showing a visitor some old airplane magazines upstairs , I lifted a short stack of publications from a shelf and discovered the really rare ones I thought had been stolen! I was overjoyed! I was privately embarrassed over the fact that my  jumping to the wrong had been so brainless of me.  Perhaps Burlee’s lying about my conduct and bumpkin mentality had been more deserved than I had thought!

Later in the year — last December — I was relocating AeroKnow Museum offices from that beloved, cherished location in the lobby at the front of the building to a hall in the back of the building.  It was a slow process, performed — as with nearly  everything else connected with AKM — solo.  I was lifting a sheaf of papers from a top shelf when  I discovered the long-lost squadron insignia I thought had been swiped!
I was mortified and delighted in the same instant.

A regular gentleman such as I would have naturally. . . rightfully . . .  logically shared the joys of re-discovery of materials I thought “cone forever” with those who knew of those “losses” and, in own venomous ways, had lied and labeled me something not much more than a jackal.

I didn’t let them know.  I never apologized to Burlee.  I’m being the wrong end of a horse over this because, after all she was the wrong end of a horse FIRST — when she abandoned my office without letting me know she was leaving. . . when she disparaged my ability  as a writer by pointing typos . . . and by accusing me  of doing something she knew I did not do.

(For the record, ever since, I have always proofread everything I’ve written for public consumption. )

I believe I can never be friends with the pilots’ club people again. This saddens me greatly. I’ve known a few of them since the 1970s. When we see each other at the airport we say “hello” and leave it at that.

I’ve learned that arriving out here at the museum in a mentally defensive frame of mind, with my guard up, expecting  more challenges to my competence and composure, changes he way I regard some people whom I encounter  frequently.  I’m trying to loosen up, to not be so ready to be offended by folks who don’t want to offend me.  The effort is working, slowly but surely, a day at a time.

Life goes on.

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Late July UPDATE

It’s been too long since posting here.  AKM is still going in the back hallway and upstairs at the Stellar Aviation FBO at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport.  I spend hours here  seven days a week.  I’ve not published a Lincoln Flyer  newsletter for the same reason I’ve not posted here for so long:  I don’t  have a  block of time large enough to commit to the task.  Starting today, I’m  contributing to this  blog with smaller “blocks”

I continue posting daily at the AeroKnow Museum Day to Day blog where I also post pictures of aircraft and visitors to AKM the previous day.  akmdaytoday.wordpress.com

I’ve decided to organize the negatives that have received no attention for the past 40 years.  A new Epson Perfection V550 was  purchased, thanks to support from Mark Houpt of Lincoln, Illinois.  Other challenges await near-term resolution.  I  must replace the Sony Mavica point & shoot, which I loved, which has broken.  My financial distress (no income from vacant half of my duplex home where I live and inconsistent hours at part-time employer)  prevent me from buying a replacement. In better years past, I would have bought a new camera out  of  pocket.  I need to replace the Mavica because my 35mm DSLR, a wonderful  Canon Eos 20D has collected considerable dust in the camera body, 35 to 70mm lens and 70 – 300 mm lens.  I cannot afford to have that equipment cleaned.  I am happy with the Canon.. I neither need nor want a new DSLR and lenses. I just want it dustless inside.  I need your support ($$$) to do what needs to be done.

I am in terrific health. My recent physical indicated that m blood chemistry, blood pressure and heart are good. At 190 pounds the beer belly is gone permanently.   I’ve not weighed 190 since early college.  I eat one meal a day most days, my reward at day’s end for having prevailed over another day. That helps with the weight issue.

STILL no success to report recruiting a dependable volunteer or two out here. As AeroKnow Museum continues an unhappy process of downsizing in the year to come, I need help moving book cases and filing cabinets. I can’t do this solo, and I can’t hire help because I need to eat at least once a day. The rest of my income goes to paying off a major loan, a 15 year-old bill for the roof o the house, and medical bills I have too-long  neglected. But life goes on.

That’s the story from here for now. Look for another post about this time next Saturday, August  5, a month from my 70th birthday.

Thanks for reading this post.

Have a good day.

 

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Downsizing

Until I was instructed last October to relocate my AeroKnow Museum office from the very visible room just off the lobby at Horizon Aviation to a larger “suite” of rooms in the back of the building,  the future of this museum was bright. I knew the building that  contained AKM would be demolished “some day” and a new one would be erected.  I was told the new facility would include space for AKM (not as much as I had occupied from the start) and our  future was secure.

The relocation to the back of the building has drastically changed the outlook for success. At first, no permission was given for a sign in the lobby inviting visitors to the FBO to walk to  the end of the hall, through the large office of another business , and into the hall where AKM’s entrance was the first door on the left. Installation of a portable sign on a movable pedestal has brought a few visitors to us, but just a fraction of that previously engaged at the old lobby office.
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Recently, I learned that the promised space in the new building probably will not be made available.  At about the same time I was advised that the materials in the seven rooms upstairs here will need to removed starting in June, and it would be wise for me to start moving it out NOW. So, for the past week, I have been doing that a few boxes at a time, also packing boxes with resources to relocate to my  home. The weather has not cooperated with this effort.  Neither has my growing despair.

For any chance of sustaining AeroKnow Museum  we are reducing the scope of our focus and committing to following:
1. Eliminating all files of articles and literature relating to foreign built aircraft which have not flown significantly  in the USA. We are holding on to the AV-8 files and jettisoning the files of those manufactured in Great Britain.  We are keeping DeHavilland Beaver material and discarding Avro CF-100 files.

Additional re-focus efforts will be explained in a series of daily posts the week of April 3 to April 8.  In the meantime we have the following resources available to not-for-profit organizations with proven commitment to educating the public about aviation history.
1. Four drawer file cabinets — $10 each.
2. Articles about home-built airplanes, US and foreign. The material is FREE.
3. Articles about air forces, airlines, airports (outside Illinois), combat groups, aviation  people. FREE.
4. Books chronologies of aviation history. Too much to catalog; I’m just one man. FREE to organizations.
5. Monographs ( books, hard and soft-bound) about foreign built airplanes.
6. Articles and books about human space flight, US and foreign.

If you know organizations who might benefit from these resources, please have their principals contact Job Conger by e-maill or conventional mail. Email is akm@eosinc.com   Mailing address  is AeroKnow Museum, 900  N. Capital Airport Drive, Springfield, IL 62707

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Flightline Friday re-post: The “almost” F-15

There is more about the North American candidate here than I have found anywhere else. KUDOS to the creator of this post

A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics

Most people have at least some small familiarity with the mighty McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15 Eagle.  First entering service in 1974, the Eagle has been the mainstay US air superiority aircraft for 40 years (uhhh….which isn’t exactly good that it’s been that long – can you imagine Wright Flyers fighting WWII?).  It’s a beautiful ship.  It has an unparalleled air to air combat record  – over 100 kills and zero losses (although, the quality of the opposition does sort of diminish that record).  But what everyone knows as the F-15 could have been a radically different, and in some ways even more capable, aircraft, had things gone a bit differently.

The military, in particular, almost never produces a weapon system without a competition within private industry to try to find the very best product available.  The competition that produced the F-15 was started in the late 60’s and was…

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Lincoln Flyer November 2016

Here is the Lincoln Flyer published last month. I just realized I can PUBLISH it here at WordPress, and I intend to publish the previous nine issues here as soon as possible. Please read them and please support AeroKnow Museum.

Best wishes to you and yours for a warm, rewarding and reverent Christmas!

 

lincflyer-10-2016-november

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WELCOME Room in Transition

The ground floor AeroKnow Museum office, a/k/a WELCOME Room, is moving to a new location on the ground  floor, further into the building housing  Stellar Aviation, formerly  Horizon Aviation. Rob Fisher, long-time  owning partner and all the terrific people employed by Horizon remain on the Stellar payroll; excellent news since they’re a terrific aviation professionals. I’ll share more about the new operator next week.

About a week ago Rob reminded me that about six  years ago we had agreed that if and when the FBO found a business who wanted to pay rent for the prime-visibility room he was letting AeroKnow Museum use for no charge, he would necessarily engage that business. Before we walked down  the hall to see the space, he told me he thought I would like the new location. He was right.

The stroll was down the hall past the rest rooms, the break room and into a large room that looks like this.
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In the weeks to come the furnishings in that room will change along with the signage on the heavy glass door entrance. AeroKnow Museum’s new WELCOME Room will be inside the first door on the  left in the hall to the rear of the large room. A major PLUS in the new location is that visitors may walk through to the Models  Room which  will display built models and model kits. There are windows with a view of the adjacent parking lot and the general aviation ramp to the left.

The next few pictures show how the rooms looked October 14 before anything was moved into them.

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Looking north toward the parking lot and terminal, visible on the right is the entrance into the Models Room.

Though showing evidence of former occupiers the WELCOME and Models Rooms are in too shape. Replacement  ceiling tiles will fill  gaps created earlier.

Both non-functioning rest rooms will be moderately renovated and will contain book cases with reference materials in easy reach for future consultation.

Lacking at present is a strong signal from the wireless network provider and for  that  reason, museum operations will continue in the current WELCOME Room. Resources remaining in the current room will be minimal, but AKM WELCOMES visitors who want to see the new rooms and tour the rest of the museum rooms upstairs.

If YOU would like to visit, please email — akm@eosinc.com — to let me know what day   and what hour of the day you want to stop by and give me at least half a day to respond,  so I can confirm I will be here.

Thanks for reading this post and for your support of AeroKnow Museum. Have a great day!

 

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“You Have One or Two Years”

For three decades, visitors to the AeroKnow Museum at my home often said, “Man, what are you going to do when you have to MOVE all of this?  Since moving into our new home at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport,  more visitors than ever are asking, “Man, where is all of this going to go when you DIE?”

Here’s a nutty circumstance to consider. Here you are, four days after a thorough physical check-up by a respected physician you’ve known for years. You’ve just stepped out of your car and started toward the supermarket entrance when your doctor pulls up next to you and rolls down his window; says the words quoted in the headline above.

About two months ago,  those words were spoken by the gentleman who just over six years ago had invited me to move AeroKnow Museum (AKM) from my home to empty rooms at the airport. That invitation was the best thing that ever happened in my life while I was wearing socks!  In May, I contacted him, inviting him to walk across the parking lot when he had a few minutes to see the improvements I’d made since his last escorted tour. He responded that with his busy schedule, it was hard to set a day and time. He’d come over when he could, and if I was there, that would be great (words to that effect). I welcomed and dreaded the director’s dropping by. Why the dread? Earlier this year some engineers and toured the upstairs rooms, part of the process of making recommendations about the future of the building, which has served as home to FBOs and other businesses since it was completed in 1947. That visit confirmed that the process of replacing the structure was formally under way. The anticipated director’s visit would, surely, more clearly reveal the anticipated time line and perhaps present some options regarding the future of AeroKnow Museum at the airport. The words quoted in this post’s title came to me in the parking lot. He had just arrived as I was exiting the building to take a few pictures, so we conversed convivially and briefly as his vehicle idled, and he indicated he would visit sometime.

. . . . . . Since then I’ve thought long and anxiously about the future of AeroKnow Museum. From the looks on some faces I see regularly, I can almost read in their eyes and demeanor that they know more than I know. For now I am reasonably confident — given the obvious regard for the museum that led to its coming together out here, starting May 27, 2010 — that when it’s important for me to know more, I will be told more. It does not advance the mission of AKM for me to carry myself around here as though I am treading water in a turbid tide of cataclysmic dimension. So I don’t, and won’t.

Earlier this year while talking with one of the owners of the FBO which hosts AKM I mentioned the then-recent visit by the architectural engineers. He responded, explaining that plans to replace the building are in process, that there would be space for AKM, but there would be fewer square feet available.

As we ease into August, I am considering the future of AeroKnow Museum, approaching my 69th birthday in early September, in excellent health and physical condition, grateful for every hour I spend at my favorite airport. Given the support demonstrated by the aviation community and general public in central Illinois, I must confess that a smaller museum would certainly benefit yours truly, Job Conger.

The president of another local aviation history group which I have served as a board member for the past three years has offered AeroKnow Museum a deal. If  I will write a certified letter promising to declare, in a revised “last will and testament,” that when I die, AKM will be donated to this group, they will try to provide some volunteer help for AKM by arranging with a local college for students to help in return for “work-study credit.” As board members of said organization, not one of them is willing to lift a finger to help, though I have helped them as time permitted over the years. . . . . . . . . I declined the offer because of reasons I may explain later via this blog.

As a not-for-profit corporation — 501 (c) 3 — AKM must transfer assets to other organizations of the same kind.  If there are PRINCIPALS (officers, board members, curators) of other aviation history organizations interested in acquiring some of our resources, respond via email  akm@eosinc.com because later may be too late.

Thanks for reading this post and for your support of AeroKnow Museum.

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Part 4 – AC-47 “Spooky” Trip to Urbana, OHIO

AC47-y55The 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 . . . .

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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 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 . . .

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.

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.

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!

 

 

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pt. 3 – AC-47 “Spooky” Flight to Urbana, OHIO

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.
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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.


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.

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.

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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.


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.

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Late Resolution re Der Adlers

If I could “do over” 25 seconds of my life or erase them from my memory, those 25 seconds would vaporize last winter’s discovery of several issues of the German World War II propaganda magazine MISSING from AeroKnow Museum’s Magazine Room.
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The revelation his me like a sledge hammer delivered with maximum malice and power to my solar plexus. The dismay over someone entering the unlocked door and leaving with the priceless magazines sent to me by a long-forgotten correspondent in Belgium was worse than any woe I have experienced since setting up the museum out here in 2010. It was my fault. I hadn’t paid attention to locking the doors upstairs. During my hours and hours away from the airport who had seen the magazines and where I had put them after showing them to the visitor, could have walked upstairs un-noticed by anyone in the lobby, placed them inside an overcoat and exited in less than five minutes. The worst part about the disappearance was that I KNEW I had to KNOW the THIEF. I had my suspicions, my “suspects,” and I informed the airport security people — Tim Franke and his terrific team — about the loss.  It’s been months since the incident happened, but the disappearance has never been a distant memory.

I am exceedingly relieved today to report that I now know the name of the person who made those Der Adlers disappear. His name is  Job Conger.

Yesterday,  June 28, I was giving my friend had AKM supporter John Holland a complete tour of the upstairs rooms. Earlier in the visit he had brought some books, including a 1954 US Air Force Flight Surgeon’s Manual and seen other parts of the museum, including the Books and Miscellaneous Files Room, pictured below — the same room which, for several years, had been headquarters of of the fabulous Springfield Air Rendezvous air show.  He’s holding an issue of Springfield Skyways a newsletter I wrote and produced more than 10 years ago.
AKJoHol-5
Our last stop on that tour was the Magazine Room. One of the niftiest parts of that assemblage was a modest collection of LIFE magazines, big extra-large magazines that could be used to cover and hide a boxed pizza, should such a need ever arise, unlikely though it would be. As I separated some of the LIFES, showing John the covers (F-80 pilot in 1946, Yuri Gagarin with Nikita Kruschev, Winston Churchill)  I discovered the missing Der Adler magazines! Last winter, in a flash of ill-considered “wisdom” I had placed them under the slightly  larger magazines to protect them from excessive exposure to light and to keep them away from the eyes of more casual visitors. My action of probably 25 seconds of  consideration and action was totally, almost instantly, forgotten. Hence my dismay that came after.

John graciously posed for a picture holding one of the issues. I did not tell him how downright elated I was to have discovered those publications because I would have revealed a museum director (me) to be more bleeping excited than the occasion warranted.
AKJoHol-4

So the Der Adlers are officially back where they need to be, behind a locked door. I will be arranging to photograph every page of each of them so I can share content with visitors and supporters more securely in the future.

I never accused by  name, any of those who had seen the them of stealing them. So no apologies seem appropriate here.   I  appreciate the sympathies and support shared with me when the agony of their apparent theft was deeply felt.

I’ll be more careful — and cognizant of what the heck I’m doing — in the  future, that’s for sure.

Thanks for reading this post.

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