Monday, August 01, 2016

How to make a museum... ask for volunteers, and then trade display space for their cars in exchange for them helping at the museum as docents and mechanics

Displayed as found in a barn, where it was hibernating for 57 years, a Chevy Imperial Landau

airplane collector Terry Brandt originally wanted volunteers to help with his aircraft museum only, but when he went looking for nearby volunteers, most of them said, “We aren’t airplane guys – we are car guys.” So cars were added and that part of the collection grows yearly.

The car collection is split between those owned by the museum – most donated – and those on loan. To have a car displayed requires the loaner to become a volunteer – one of over a hundred who do everything from mechanical maintenance to acting as knowledgeable docents for visitors.

Brandt learned how to fly at about age 12,  as his parents ran the airport in Marysville, California, and  a flight school there. Terry's father also built between 200 and 300 crop dusters, and Terry was particularly fond of soaring in gliders and started buying old aircraft as a young man at age 19, which continued into the ’80s. One of his early buys was a 1917 Curtis JN-14 “Jenny” which will be one hundred years old and will be flown in celebration during a fly-in in September 2017.

Over the years, Brandt kept buying old aircraft – often simply being told to haul away the “barn finds” (mostly behind barns and not inside) from owners who had let them go. He never paid a lot for them, and just rebuilt them with some skilled volunteer help.

He initially financed the museum on his own. The Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum (WAAAM) in Hood River, Oregon gets no public money and relies mostly on admission fees and small donations to fund operations.

It has recently received a private donation of $1.5 million from Minnesota benefactor Jerry Wenger, which went to fund the new construction. Wenger had previously donated his private collection of WACO aircraft, built by a company in Troy, Ohio, that folded in 1947 after the expected postwar explosion in civilian aircraft sales never materialized.

a refitted Navy Piper J-5, used as a shipboard air ambulance in WW2. They were flown from the short decks of US navy ships to ferry sailors with medical problems to the larger aircraft carriers. Only 100 were built; few have survived intact.

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