Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book a date with "Fifi"

The Commemorative Air Force will be flying into Martin State Airport May 21 for three days.
Here is your chance to ride on the only B-29 that is gracing the skies. Also due is the group's B-24 bomber and P-51 fighter.

The planes will only make one flight each on May 22 and May 23, so seats are limited.  You can buy your tickets online at

During their layover, the planes will be open for tours: Monday 1 PM to 5 PM, and Tuesday and Wednesday 9 AM to 5 PM.  There is a charge to tour the planes.

The Museum will be open extended hours while the planes are in town.  Stop by to see the new exhibit on Martin Company workers in World War II -- "They Answered the Call."  Or pick up a t-shirt or model plane.

If you would like to volunteer to help during this special visit, call the museum at 410-682-6122 or email us at

Saturday, April 14, 2012

First Open Cockpit Day of the season

Visitors get a close-up look at the Douglas TA-4J.

The weather was perfect and nearly a hundred people of all ages enjoyed the first Open Cockpit Day of 2012 on Saturday at the Strawberry Point flight line.

The public had a chance to experience the first-class travel that passengers enjoyed aboard the Martin 4-0-4 airliner. Most commented on the roominess of the cabin and the legroom not enjoyed in the jet age.

Kids enjoyed sitting in the cockpit of the Douglas TA-4J trainer. Volunteer Richard Steinert went over the controls with the would-be pilots.  The engine had been taken out when the plane was delivered, so no flight plan needed to be filed.  This plane was used in Top Gun school as an "aggressor" aircraft. Rumor has it that the plane appeared in the film "Top Gun," but was not flown by Tom Cruise.

People were surprised by the tight quarters of the Martin RB-57A Canberra that was open to the public for the day.  The younger and more lithe visitors squeezed into the pilot's seat and the cramped navigator's space.  Although originally designed as a bomber, the plane saw more duty in a reconnaissance role.

The next Open Cockpit Day is Saturday, May 12 from 11 AM to 2 PM.  Bring your mom for an early Mother's Day treat.

What the well-dressed volunteer will wear

Richard Steinert wears new docent vest.

Al LaPorte admires Ted Cooper's highly visible flight line vest.

The volunteers who participated in Volunteer Appreciation Day Saturday got a sneak peak of the latest in museum-wear.  Docents will sport navy vests with the museum's logo.

Volunteers on the flight line will now be easier to spot while wearing their optic-green vests.  This should increase their visibility to both the public and pilots at Martin State Airport.

The changes are designed to make it easier for visitors to identify the people who can answer their questions.

Volunteer Appreciation Day

Volunteers enjoy refreshments.
A perfect day at the Strawberry Point flight line ended with refreshments as the Museum thanked its hard-working volunteers Saturday afternoon.

Earlier, they had shown dozens of visitors, young and older, the planes of the flight line.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bob Dorr talks about Berlin air mission

Bob Dorr displays his latest book at his Museum talk.
Who was Frank Chrastka?  Bob Dorr asked that question as he began his presentation at the April 2 edition of the Museum's Monday Speaker Series.

Bob entertained the audience at the Lockheed Martin auditorium with excerpts from his latest book, "Mission to Berlin," the story of the largest air attack on a German target in World War II.  He got the listeners into the proper frame of mind by emphasizing the harsh conditions that American crews endured flying miles high in sub-zero conditions.  The cold and noise of the B-17s during the hours-long flight only made the Americans' exploits more impressive.

Bob did not dwell on the human toll, both in the air and on the ground, but made it clear that the war exacted a heavy price on both sides.  He also emphasized that it was the skill and ingenuity of the U.S. that made the difference in the outcome of the war.  As for Frank Chrastka, you'll have to read the book or ask Bob about the sergeant's tragic end.

What's on the horizon for the author?  He hinted that, come this Fall, he expects to have a book detailing the firebombing of Tokyo at the end of World War II. The Museum has already extended an invitation so Bob can talk about the air war in the Pacific.

A look at history

Docent Bill Haugen explains the special tiles on the shuttle. A busload of aviation enthusiasts enjoyed the day November 8 at the Smiths...