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.

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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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.
AKsign-17a-3AKsign-17a -4
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   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!



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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.

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.


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 — — 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 because later may be too late.

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

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