Another year has passed and what a year it was! It has been a year of turmoil, sacrifice, and uncertainty. Here at the March Field Air Museum we have suffered the absence of friends and co-workers as we struggled through the health and economic battering of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all we pulled together forging a strong and focused core committed to preserving the museum as a vibrant and growing entity. Despite the challenges we have accomplished much.
This year saw the opening of our watershed exhibit “Aerial Bombing - The Civilian Experience” Within its walls visitors hear the drone of approaching heavy bombers, and feel the rumble of anti-aircraft fire as the shock of exploding bombs cause the walls to tremble as heat from burning incendiaries pulsates through the reinforced concrete. Here they learn of the terrifying reality of World War II as it was experienced in the London underground during the Blitz and in the deep shelters of Nazi Germany.
Within the main hangar the new Observation Deck gives a bird’s eye view of the legendary SR-71 Blackbird, the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft and P-39 Airacobra fighter. The Innovations Through Conflict Gallery saw the creation of a new Women’s Airforce Service pilot exhibit formed around the donation of artifacts from noted artist and former WASP, Dorothy “Dot” Swain Lewis.
This year also saw the completion of a joint project close to all our hearts as Colonel Earl Williams was awarded the Purple Heart for
wounds received during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The award, nearly eighty years after the action, followed five years of determined effort by
B-17 Archaeology president Greg Stathatos with the assistance of the March Field Air Museum.
As I write this letter, the final stages of the movement of a Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster from the California Science Center to March Field Air Museum has been completed. The 149-foot booster will provide the centerpiece for a memorial park dedicated to the 14 astronauts who lost their lives during the Challenger and Columbia disasters. The quiet, shaded area for rest and reflection will commemorate those brave individuals whose courage pushed forward the frontiers of aviation.
Even with the restrictions of social distancing in place, the museum found a way to bring the community together to preserve history. This year, members of “Team Shine” a non-profit group of aircraft and auto detailers joined together to volunteer their time and skills to restore our B-29 Superfortress “Flagship 500”. Supported by donations of food and materials from local businesses, the team worked in isolation as they polished the World War II bomber to a mirror finish.
Aircraft acquisitions and restorations, hard hit by the restrictions of the pandemic, nevertheless moved forward. A Fokker D-IV flying replica, in the livery of the Imperial German Air Force, now hangs in Hangar Two. The sacrifices of those we lost has been honored with the completion of our Vietnam veteran UH-1D, our T-38 Talon and T-37 Tweety-bird trainers and O-2A Forward Air Controller, all have been restored with the help of generous individual donors.
Before the end of this month, our C-119 Flying Boxcar will proudly wear its original Royal Canadian Air Force colors. Great progress has already been made in restoring our C-54 Skymaster one of the worlds first aero medical transports and a veteran of the fierce World War Two Battle of Okinawa.
Work has begun on our O-2B Super Skymaster to return it to its 9th Special Operations Squadron configuration. We have amazing plans for the near future with our KC-135A Strato-tanker, VC-47 VIP transport and F-101 Voodoo due for restoration in 2021.
Be assured, we will recover. This upcoming year will see our revitalized Events Department bring back the quality entertainment you have loved in past. Champions of Flight, this year honoring legendary aviator Dick Rutan, the SR-71 Symposium, and of course the March Field Airshow will all make a triumphant return in 2021.
March Field Air Museum receives no federal or state funding. As such, we depend on your donations to continue our mission. Your generous gift can make the difference between preserving history or watching it fade away. As we re-dedicate ourselves, won’t you join us? With your help we can continue our mission to preserve the past and enrich the future.
“To the living we owe respect, to the dead we owe only the truth”
Thank-you for your support,
President, Executive Board
March Field Air Museum
P.S. The successes of this year would not have been possible without your generosity. Any donation, of whatever denomination, is vital to our continued progress. Your contribution could mean the difference between success and failure.
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 2020 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.