When you go to school to be an Archivist or Historian, one of the lessons taught is focus when planning an exhibit—or even a Museum. I like a museum that has a purpose that tries to show a time, a mission and more. The Pax River Museum is a good example. Another is 134 miles north, about a two hours drive from Pax River. The Air Mobility Command Museum is located adjacent to Dover Air Force Base.
The AMC Museum is charged with showing the history of the United States’ Air Force’s ability to project men, material, and supplies across the globe. It has a very complete collection of the aircraft that have transported everything from food stuffs to presidents.
Exhibit One: Turf Sport Special
Upon entering the museum hangar, the visitor is face-to-face with two aircraft that defined World War II, a C-47A and a B-17G. The C-47A S/N 42-92841 is “Turf Sport Special”; 92841 has had a storied career. She flew on D-Day, OPERATION MARKET GARDEN, and then survived the war only to fly in the Berlin Airlift. Often museums do repaint aircraft they have into markings in which the aircraft never flew. Special is the real deal. A docent once told me a story about a crewman of Special who didn’t believe it was the actual aircraft. He told the docent, he could personally tell if it was her or not. The vet climbed into the cargo bay, felt around on the floor and started to cry. He found the bullet hole patch he personally put into the aircraft in World War II.
Special is a remarkable restoration and worth going to the museum for.
Across from the C-47 is a B-17G, Sleepy Time Gal. The B-17G was donated to the Museum by the Museum of the United States Air Force at Dayton Ohio. She replaced the B-17G SHOO SHOO SHOO BABY, after 10 years of restoration by the Dover Team. The B-17G was too late for the war, however. She served admirably as a prototype Drone controlled after the war; whereas Baby flew under her own power to Wright Pat. 83624 flew via C-5A from the USAFM. She was reassembled and restored to represent Sleepy Time Gal of the 381st Bomb Wing in England.
The Dover team has been noted for their restorations. The 121, for example, in the collection, also has a storied past. It was originally purchased by Cubana Airlines. She then was transferred to Capital Airways. Eventually it ended atop a restaurant in Pendel, PA—the same Constellation where a six-year- old got his birthday wish and had dinner in the airplane, but I digress. The restaurant was to be leveled, but the aircraft was then offered to the Museum, and in 1996, it was restored and is one of few places a fan can see a 1049 Connie.
Hidden Jem: Location, Location, and a Towering Location.
With the Museum using the apron sandwiched between runways 14/32 and 1/19, the visitor has a clear view of both main runways and the operations of the base. C-17s, C-5s, and a multitude of civilian aircraft, like 747s and Falcon Jets are ready for perusal. The Museum is also near the transit ramp. During my last visit, a Saudi Arabian C-130H-30 was parked in full view. The Museum just installed the base’s 1956 Control Tower Cab. The tower is being restored with its original electronics and is currently connected to the Modern tower, so the comings and goings of the Flightline can be heard. Who wouldn’t want to pretend to hear permission for a fully loaded C-5M roaring down the runways?
The outside collection has every major transport the USAF has flown:
- Kaman HH-43 Husky
- UH-1D Huey
- F-106A Delta Dart
- F-101B Voodoo
- C-130E Hercules
- C-7A Caribou
- C-9A/C Nightingale
- VC-9A Executive Transport
- C-45G Expeditor
- C-54M Skymaster
- C-119G Flying Boxcar
- C-123K Provider
- C-124B Globemaster
- C-131A Samaritan
- C-133A Cargomaster
- C-141A Starlifter
- C-141B Starlifter
- KC-135E Stratotanker
- KC-97L Stratotanker
- U-3A Blue Canoe
- A-26C Invader
- TG-4A Glider
- BT-13 Valiant
- PT-17 Kaydet
- T-33 Shooting Star
- Waco CG-4A
The collection and the Museum continue to grow. It is an amazing collection, representing the Transport community from World War II to the modern day. The exhibits on Operation NICKEL GRASS and the airlift to the Congo are especially worth visiting. It is really cool stepping out from viewing the interior of the C-130E, only to watch a C-5 do a touch-n-go.
The AMC Museum is a must-see museum on the East coast of the USA.
Entry is Free: though make a donation!
The hours are:
Tuesday through Sunday: 9 AM to 4 PM
Closed Mondays and Major Holidays
By David Vanderhoof
@DMVanderhoof on twitter