What's New for Summer 2009by Kyle Kirby
We had a very interesting visitor at the museum on Thursday, Aug 6! Meet Luke Short. He was hanging out with friend Terry Clark who is also our superb Airport Manager. Terry introduced us and we headed for our Apollo display in the museum. And for good reason! Luke is in the NASA Apollo Hall of Fame! We spoke for about an hour and I couldn't believe all this man has done. He worked with greats like Werner von Braun, Rocco Petrone, Chris Kraft, Buzz Aldrin, etc. etc!! He just missed the Apollo 1 fire as his shift had ended and he was thankful of that. He also worked with a 5 man crew atop the launch gantry 300+ feet above the Florida Capes!! There he helped secure all ops prior to launch. He also worked for North American in Columbus, Ohio on the RA-5 Vigilante. We barely scratched the surface and he really explained the workings of the Saturn V in great detail. After NASA, Luke came here and worked with the FAA in Hickory for many years. He is local and he says he's coming back!! I sure hope so!!
This is Willi Klappert. I stayed and worked late at the museum on Sunday, May 31st. I came up front and saw this gentleman standing at the fence looking at the aircraft. I am very glad I went outside to speak to him. He introduced himself in an undeniable German accent. He worked for General Electric and has lived in Hickory for about forty years. He traveled all over with GE and we swapped a few stories. They were very fascinating to say the least!! Willi grew up in wartime Germany. His grandfather was lost in France during WW I. His father was lost on the Eastern Front in WW II on an island in a river. They were never really sure what happened to him and the fighting there was just brutal!! As a child he said all the kids would watch the dogfights overhead. The first thing that would happen is the drop tanks would come off. They would land around his village and the ones that were the least damaged were prized possessions for the older kids. If they fell through trees they were usually in pretty good shape!! They would make boats out of them although he said they were very unstable!! This is how our Fury's drop tanks were saved!! Also we spoke of the RAF's night time bombing campaign. He said they couldn't even light candles in his house at night or the Brits would hit them. Kind of a rough way to spend your childhood!!! Also, the first time he heard a jet he thought the world was ending!! When US troops finally liberated his community, they set up a chow hall in a sports complex. He told me that he and the other kids would stand outside with tin plates and cups to get scraps!! The GIs offered up hot chocolate, mashed potatoes, and other goodies!! He said sometimes they would have to remove cigarette butts, but they literally survived on this for a while. He said the US troops treated them pretty good!! A US citizen now, we spoke a good deal about our nation. He read a blurb in the paper about us being war mongers and it really upset him. He wrote a res ponse back praising the US. I asked if we could get a copy for the museum and he said yes!! It is always interesting to have such neat people show up here and always remarkable to get a perspective from "the other side of the fence"!!! We should never take what we have for granted...EVER!!!! Willi is going to try and come out for our D-Day celebration on Saturday, June 6th.
Here are a few pictures of our warbirds under a great sky!
This is our great pal Randy Monroe. He was at the helm of the tractor-trailer that delivered Felix 107!! Thanks to the Navy, he is seen here delivering our new tug!! This thing is just in fabulous shape and has a four cylinder Ford motor. I think we should put a Boss 429 in it!!! Randy has been great to us and is an honorary member with the museum!!
Recently, a Lockheed Constellation model was acquired and our master modeler Jim Malcolm was put to the test!! Bob morgan flew the "Connie" with Slick Airlines and asked if Jim could pull it off!!!! Here you see the end result!! Jim is seen presenting Bob with the finished product!! All of the marking were done by hand and the result is a spectacular representation of one of Bob's former mounts!! We are very glad to have Jim's great abilities here at the museum and this model will "soar" at the museum in honor of Mr. Bob Morgan, a great friend, member, and tremendous supporter of our efforts!!
I am thankful that my flock gets to meet these wonderful people here at HAM. Here are my three, and my newly adopted daughter Brooke showing Bob Morgan a little love!! Can you tell he just hates it!! For those of you in cyber-space looking in, a museum should transcend artifacts and the like. We have a family like atmosphere here and it is really special.