WWII Aviation Museum needs your support

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A group of businessmen and pilots, some from Colorado Springs and some from across the country, are hoping to build The National Museum of World War II Aviation in our fair city.

It’s an ambitious — glorious, really — undertaking that deserves our support.

Minneapolis businessman and aviation buff Jim Fry chose Colorado Springs for the site of the museum, the first of its kind, in 2005.

Fry chose the Springs for obvious reasons: because of the area’s extensive military presence, he said, and most importantly because of the location of the nation’s foremost aviation institution, the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Oh, and let’s not forget about NORAD, which was instrumental during the Cold War, and now USNORTHCOM, which keeps watch over the skies of North America.

The museum effort involves WestPac Restorations, which specializes in World War II planes restoration. After signing onto the plan, WestPac’s CEO moved to Colorado Springs to be part of the museum push.

The idea is to build a 20-acre museum complex near the Springs airport that will include a hangar where World War II aircraft will be displayed. Exhibits are being designed by folks who worked on Smithsonian showcases.

There will be an observation deck where visitors can watch WWII planes take off and land.

Education will be a key element.

History lessons will include America’s entrance into World War II, its lagging effort to keep up with Japanese and German aviation technology and its eventual rise to the technological advances that led to plane that carried the atomic bombs that forced Japan to surrender.

Lessons also will recount how Colorado Springs became a prominent spot on the nation’s aviation map and why the Air Force Academy was established here after the 1947 passing of the National Security Act, which called for the creation of the Air Force.

World War II was a time when the nation came together, a time that produced the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter, a symbol of sacrifice and unity, characteristics that made the nation great.

Museum board members don’t want to see those stories pass away, a real danger.

As board member Jim Stewart, a well-known local businessman former fighter pilot, said, “They’re stories too many of our kids don’t know about.”

A number of groups have chipped in to make the museum a reality, including El Pomar, but organizers still have a long road ahead of them and need to raise at least $13 million in the next five years.

Visit www.worldwarIIaviation.org to read more and offer your support.