It’s been a long year, here at the March Field Air Museum. A year filled with peaks and valleys, with hopes, aspirations, and ideas. A year of grand plans and some even grander accomplishments. As 2018 draws to a close, it is time to tighten our focus and re-dedicate ourselves to the foundational values that made us a leader in the community and in the field of air museums, the values of honor, of patriotism, the values of respect and of service.
This year saw us complete the Wright Brothers exhibit. Today, visitors to the March Field Air Museum can stand beneath the wings of a full-size 1903 Wright Flyer and marvel at the first successful, heavier-than-air aircraft as it floats above the humble bicycle shop where two brothers, Orville and Wilbur, each astoundingly innovative engineers, transformed aviation from a dream to a reality.
Nearby a Curtiss JN-4 Jenny replica, acquired this year, soars overhead as it motors towards a replica of Hangar 385, one of the first Golden Age of Aviation hangars constructed at March Field. Our SR-71A Blackbird sports a new coat of satin black paint and a shining steel perimeter, complete with LED’s, to give the world’s fastest aircraft a glowing cushion of light to accentuate its futuristic lines. This year, the museum instituted the MFAM Champions of Flight award, with the first honoree being the SR-71 Blackbird’s first pilot, legendary test pilot Bob Gilliland.
On the flightline, an F-104 Starfighter, once one of Edwards Test Pilots School and Flight Center’s proud escorts to experimental aircraft like the XB-70 Valkyrie and the X-15 Rocket Plane has taken its place in our “Century Series” row next to the newly restored California Air National Guard F-102 Delta Dart. Our C-123 Provider shines with new aluminum paint, looking as if it is ready for another mission to the war-torn Belgian Congo. The T-33 Shooting Star, C-131 Samaritan and U-9 Aero Commander all join the ranks of the newly restored. Over at the Vietnam Fire Base, our UH-1B Gunship sparkles in the bright colors of the Quarter Horse Cavalry as it leaps into the sky on newly constructed supports.
Down at the Restoration hangar, Alex and his crew are working to restore our T-38 Talon to its Undergraduate Pilot Training trim in honor of Major Parkell and four members of his crew who lost their lives in a 1978
B-52 Stratofortress crash at March Field.
These are but a few of the changes here at the museum. We have accomplished much but have so much more to go. Within the main hangar, volunteers are re-forming elements from March Air Force Base’s decommissioned 15th Air Force Operations Center to create an extensive exhibit on the 15th Air Force, the most powerful air armada in the history of warfare. At the southern end of the museum campus, nestled near the newly restored OH-58 Kiowa and MiG-23 Flogger, an extensive open-air exhibit is taking shape honoring a severely underserved community, the veterans of America’s longest war, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This upcoming year, massive T-barriers will be installed providing over one-hundred feet of concrete canvas for active duty and veteran’s groups to paint murals commemorating their contributions and their deep personal sacrifices in the War on Terror.
March Field Air Museum is committed to preserving the past and enriching the future by protecting the legacy of the aviation pioneers and brave military aviators who fill the history of March Field. An innovative spirit and an unwavering commitment to the community were the defining attributes of these heroes. With your help, we will ensure that legacy is passed on to future generations.
The successes of this year would not have been possible without your generosity. Continuing down this path requires your help. Any donation, of whatever denomination, is vital to our continued progress. For your convenience, you may click on this link 2018 Year End Donation or you can mail your generous, year-end donation today to the March Field Air Museum, P.O. Box 6463, Riverside CA 92518.
Thank-you for your support
President, Executive Board
March Field Air Museum
P.S. We have re-affirmed our commitment to preserving the past with clear vision, not through rose-colored or jaded glasses, but with the sharp focus of the individuals who lived it, as they lived it. Won’t you help? Your contribution could mean the difference between success and failure.