by Jacques Robitaille, CAF Ghost Squadron Communications Officer and Pamela Mickelson, MAMAT Board President
The rumble of engines from one of the rarest World War II bombers, the B-29 Superfortress FIFI will be heard over the skies of Siouxland when she visits Sioux Gateway Airport as part of the AirPower History Tour of the Commemorative Air Force. The event is being held in partnership with the Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation. The bomber is to be accompanied by a T-6 Texan.
The Boeing B-29 was the most advanced four-engine bomber of WWII and featured many innovations such as a pressurized cockpit, remote-control computerized fire-control system that operated four machine gun turrets, and onboard radar. It was the most expensive weapons project undertaken by the United States during the war, costing more than $3 billion, which exceeded the cost of the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb. The bomber could fly higher, 31,850 feet, than any other bomber of the period and had a top speed of 350 miles per hour.
Superfortresses were used in the China-Burma-India Theater and in the Pacific Theater of Operations where their range could take the air war to Japan. Hundreds of B-29s at a time would make the 3,000-mile round trip from the islands of Guam, Saipan, and Tinian on missions lasting anywhere from 12 to 18 hours.
On August 6, 1945, the B-29 Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three days later, the B-29 Bockscar, dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Those two missions led to the end of the war and the surrender ceremony on the deck of the USS Missouri on September 2 with 525 B-29s flying overhead in a show of force.
FIFI is one of only two flying B-29s in the world. She was acquired by the CAF in 1971 from the U.S. Navy Proving Grounds in China Lake, California. After a three-year restoration she began touring in 1974 and has been entertaining air show audiences across the country ever since.
Known as the "Pilotmaker," the T-6 Texan was an advanced flight trainer manufactured by North American Aviation, the same company that built the P-51 Mustang fighter. First flown in 1935, the T-6 introduced new pilots to a complex aircraft with more speed, 200-plus miles per hour, to prepare them for the warbirds they would fly in combat in WWII. The T-6 was designed for an instructor and student, and had a closed cockpit. Airshow fans may notice the T-6 serving the CAF as an impersonator---several of the airplanes have been slightly modified and painted as Japanese torpedo bombers and fighters for the Tora, Tora, Tora re-enactment of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Commemorative Air Force was founded to acquire, restore and preserve in flying condition a complete collection of combat aircraft which were flown by all military services of the United States, and selected aircraft of other nations, for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations of Americans.
Collecting aircraft for nearly a half a century, the CAF now ranks as one of the largest air forces in the world. Today the CAF has approximately 13,000 members and a fleet of more than 175 aircraft representing more than 60 different types, including planes from several foreign countries and other military conflicts since World War II.
The Headquarters of the CAF is located in Dallas, TX. CAF members live in every state and 28 foreign countries. In 26 states and four foreign countries, our members have joined together and formed units to foster camaraderie and, in many cases, actively support one or more of the classic military aircraft operated by the CAF.
More than just a collection of airworthy warplanes from the past, the CAF's fleet of historic aircraft, known as the CAF Ghost Squadron, recreate, remind and reinforce the lessons learned from the defining moments in American military aviation history in a living tribute to the men and women who built, maintained and flew them.
The aircraft will be located at the Sioux Gateway Airport. Parking and entrance gates are located at the south end of the field at 6121 Pershing St., Sioux City. The Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation is located just off Harbor Drive on the northeast corner of the field at 2600 Expedition Ct., Sioux City, IA 51111. Plenty of parking is available at both sites.
A Big Band Dance will feature the Mearl Lake Orchestra and VIP Tables available on August 10 at the air museum. To purchase tickets, follow this link. The dance will celebrate the arrival of Fifi and the T6 and those who fought for our freedom. Auction, dance contest, best dressed, and concessions are part of the evening. The proceeds will benefit the STEM Education program and FedEx Learning Center.
To book a ride on any of the CAF aircraft, go to www.airpowertour.org. The airshow will be open to the public from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, August 7-11. Access to the ramp where the warbirds are parked is $15 for adults, $9 for children ages 10-17 and free for children nine and under. T6 rides are available all five days. The B-29 flies on Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Cockpit tours of the B-29 will be available beginning at 9 a.m., except on Saturday and Sunday when they will begin at noon.
The ramp fee includes free admission to the Mid America Museum of Aviation and transportation, located at the airport at 2600 Expedition Ct., Sioux City IA 51111. Additional information about the museum can be found at MidAmericaAirMuseum.org.
Flight 232 30th honored at the air museum
Written by Pamela L. Mickelson, President of the Board of directors, MAMAT
It’s been 30 years, but for many it was yesterday. Some believe it was when we became known as Siouxland, while others believe July 19, 1989 was one of those days that Siouxland was at her very best. Most will remember it as a day of miracles.
The air museum will host an Open House on July 19, 2019 in honor of that fateful day.
Captain Al Haynes and his crew believed no other place could have responded as Siouxlanders did for his crippled United Airlines Flight 232. A flight from Denver to Chicago had many vacationers and young families.
Souls on board? Captain Haynes explained to the air traffic controller he carried 296 souls aboard the DC10. A major hydraulic system had failed over Northwest Iowa on his flight at 30,000 feet. A miracle that the crew (including one flying as a passenger) could manage to get the DC10 to descend in a circle pattern to find the Sioux Gateway Airfield. A miracle that the airfield was a military base with long runways that were suitable for a DC10 with gated parameters and military first responders. A miracle that just two years prior, emergency management crews in the Siouxland area drilled for a major catastrophe – an airline crash at Sioux Gateway Airport. A miracle that 184 survived.
July 19, 2019 marks the 30th year since that day. You may want to take time to ask some Siouxlanders what they remember from 1989. You don’t have to go very far to find a nurse, a doctor, a dentist, a Red Cross volunteer, a blood donor, a college administrator, a ham operator, a volunteer EMS crew or fire fighter from all three states and 20 some counties. One estimate was that 1000 individuals came to the call to help that day. A miracle? Or just what Siouxland does.
Families, crew members, survivors, pilots, first responders are among those who come to the air museum each week to see the exhibit dedicated during the 25th anniversary of the crash of Flight 232. The exhibit tells the story, honors the souls lost that day, the 184 saved and those who fought to save them. Two other places in Sioux City pay tribute to the crash as well. A beautiful bronze statue of a first responder carrying a young boy is in a garden on the riverfront next to the Anderson Dance Pavilion. And an exhibit at the public museum has a video on disaster and recovery.
Larry Finley, Executive Director of the air museum said “The exhibit is the only display of the crash and the response. It continues to have interest. At least one visitor a week representing first responders, families of the survivors or those deceased stops in to see the display.”
Flight attendant Susan White, one of the original crew members is based and still flying for United out of Denver. Last summer Susan and her fiancé, Derek Fitch, visited Sioux City and the air museum. She was so touched “To see the 232-exhibit memorializing this unforgettable event in aviation history. We were both moved to tears. It’s especially meaningful to have this at the Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation in Sioux City because of the impact all the responders had on the survivors’ lives. I’m forever grateful for all the people in Siouxland”
On July 19, the museum will host an open house. Hours will be 10:00 – 7:00 pm. Coffee will be available in the evening and the event is free and open to the public. A free will offering will be accepted to support the continued upkeep of the 232 exhibits at the museum. The air museum is located on the northeast corner of the airfield, just off Harbor Drive at 2600 Expedition Ct. Sioux City. Susan White of Denver is hosting a small private gathering of the 232 families and will join the air museum via Facebook Live during the evening.
The 232 exhibits and the point of impact on Runway 22 just outside the building gives all of us pause, and a reason to remember the miracles of one hot July afternoon 30 years ago.
Written by: Paige Rodawig- Senior, Morningside College
As visitors make their way through the museum, their eyes will be drawn to a retired United Airlines Boeing 727-100 cockpit. This aircraft flew commercial flights across the world before going out of commission. While the cockpit is not ready for viewing quite yet, this centerpiece for the museum gives visitors a sense of what luxury commercial transportation was like in the 1960’s.
In this area, you can imagine the thrill of commercial flight when ladies and gentlemen dressed up like they were going to a party, and service was first-rate. The food was first-rate as well! On display at the museum is a serving set of fine china and silverware from the days when a full meal was served at no additional cost! The meals didn’t vary between first and second classes. However, gold-trimmed plates were exclusive to first class. If your plate had a silver trim, you were in second class. No matter where you were seated, the food was freshly cooked at each airport, and then carefully transported onto the plane. Depending on the time of your flight, you were served a full and hearty breakfast, lunch, or dinner. United Airlines was an innovator in commercial aviation. For example, they were the first airline to start using computers during the ticket process.
The MAMAT museum has Irving Jensen III, a Sioux City native and owner of the cockpit, to thank for this amazing display. Irving has always been interested in aircraft and taking on projects, and this cockpit restoration is certainly one of his largest! The cockpit was recovered in a aviation salvage in Mississippi just South of the FedEx headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee. The first class seating area is displayed on the museum floor behind the actual cockpit, and features a film about the Sioux City Orpheum Theater restoration. Eventually, this cockpit and surrounding display will be an area for people to gather, view films about the history of aviation and transportation in Sioux City, and explore what it was like to be aboard one of these planes.
Come see the Boeing 727-100 while it is being restored! We cannot wait for it to be finished so you can step inside.
Written by: Maggie Ganley- Senior, Morningside College
As visitors walk into the soaring lobby of the museum, they are greeted by a locally home built replica of an early 1900’s French Nieuport 11 airplane. The plane marks the first time America became heavily involved with air warfare. Looking back to February of 1916, a fleet of Nieuport 11s were sent out to help with the Battle of Verdun--one of the longest and bloodiest battles during the war.
In the early 1900’s, the United States didn’t see a need for aviation. It wasn’t until the U.S. got involved in World War I that a true need for air defense for our country arose. At the time, the U.S. didn’t have an air-force, so any American who wanted to learn to be a fighter pilot, had to train in France. Once the pilots were trained, they doubled as both bomber pilots and forward observers in the single engine, single seat Nieuport 11. During combat, the pilots would act as bomber pilots, flying over the enemy with their racks of hand grenades, pulling the pins, and throwing the grenades overboard. As forward observers, the pilots would record information about the enemy troops as they flew overhead. They then put their notes into a canister and dropped the canister off over their home base.
The Nieuport planes, weren’t originally well equipped for combat. In fact, the first Nieuports had issues with their machine gun mounts. The guns weren’t timed with the propellers properly so they shot the propellers off. However, engineers soon resolved this problem. After adding the timing chain, which ensured that the machine gun would only fire when the propellers were in the horizontal position, the pilots were able to properly mount and use machine guns during battle.
The Nieuport 11 at the museum was built by Bob Heath, a Sioux City native, from plans drafted by Graham Lee of Canada. The aircraft is a flyable, ⅞th scaled version of the original, because the full version would need a larger engine. This was Heath’s first home built aircraft inspected by the FAA and received an Airworthiness Certificate. He acquired knowledge about planes and their construction while in the U.S. Air Force. The airplane was mostly constructed in the basement of his house. Upon completion it was reassembled outdoors.
Come see the Nieuport 11 at the Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation (MAMAT) and immerse yourself in America’s proud history of flight.
Written by: Pam Mickelson
The Gilchrist Foundation awarded two capital campaign grants totaling $102,624 to the Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation to help fund gate access to the museum and install energy efficient lighting for museum artifacts.
Plans called for a swing gate that reduces maintenance and manpower so aircraft can have access to museum property. The gate will allow future warbirds and Fly In participants a safer and better access to the museum after taxiway improvements are completed by the City of Sioux City and the museum.
The lighting project funded new fixtures and lamps for the 30,000 sq. ft. building. The new lights are better for the museum artifacts and energy efficient. …. In addition, new fans were installed to aid in air circulation to make the visitor experience more pleasant as well as also being energy efficient. Since the installation of both new lights and new fans electric bills have drastically been reduced.
"We are thankful for the Gilchrist Foundation. Its impact will be felt by future visitors," says Dr. Pam Mickelson, museum board president. "We are especially proud of Gilchrist board members in their continued dedication to supporting the air museum."
Larry Finley, museum Executive Director, said “the lights have been on my list for years to improve. The original halide fixtures were very hard on artifacts as well as the eye. Return visitors have enjoyed the new lighting.”
Mark Your Calendars! The Spring 2019 Pancake Breakfast and Fly In is set for April 6. Enjoy John The Pancake Man's breakfast, entrance to the museum, and the opportunity to listen to aviators and car collectors talk about their passions. There will also be a car show with a best car announced at 11:30 am. To enter the car show, just buy a ticket to the breakfast and fill out a form at the front desk. The winner of the car show will receive family passes to the museum, a museum gift basket, and an invitation to display their vehicle for 30 days at the museum. There will also be a raffle for a museum gift basket at the event. Purchase your tickets here. or at the front desk the day of the event.
Stay tuned as we add exhibit talks.
Updated April 4, 2019
The museum has partnered with Morningside College advertising and marketing students who are taking their senior capstone class. Dr. Pam Mickelson chose the museum as the client for the students to work on from August 2018 to May 2019.
The student are currently conducting market research on the museum, and next semester, they will use the information they gather to create an advertising campaign. As part of their market research, the students created a survey to determine local awareness and attitudes about the museum.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey! The students learned a lot of valuable information about local perceptions of the museum.
The students are having a lot of fun working for the museum, They’ve been enjoying frequent trips to the MAMAT and lots of afternoon coffee.
The Beverly Belles of Denver joined the Midwest Honor Flight to make the Hangar Dance a success.
The evening included dance lessons for the Dordt College dance team, a concert with the Beverly's, dance, a taste of wine, costume contest, and a silent auction. Benefits from the bank funded one last flight of honor with the Midwest Honor Flight and the air museum educational programs.
Raymond Hansen Knudsen, Grandfather of museum intern Eamon Adamson, served in the 69th infantry division of the U.S. Army from 1943-1945. He was born in Buffalo Center, Iowa in 1924 eventually moving to New Jersey. He grew up during the Great Depression, which caused him to be very resourceful and creative, one of his trademarks. Drafted in July 1943, following his graduation from high school, Raymond was given the nickname "the Swede" because of his Scandinavian heritage. He was actually Danish but didn't mind "the Swede" nickname.
He originally trained to be a pilot but before finishing his training he was called to serve in the infantry due to immediate need of men. He arrived in South Hampton, England by way of the troop transport ship MS John Ericsson. It was Christmas Day 1944 700 men from his division were sent to the Belgium front helping the German offensive. The German army attacked in mid December 1944 creating a bulge in the American lines. The battle for this area would be called "The Battle of the Bulge."
Raymond arrived in Le Havre, France where 810 replacements brought to re-fortify the division and make ready for combat. He specifically remembered the snow being deep and the wind very cold. His regiment, the 272nd went into action along the Siegfried Line. The troops lived in log-covered dugouts for protection against enemy artillery. Raymond was part of the telephone section, in an interview with Raymond Knudsen, "Our main tasks were to find and repair breaks in wire. Repairing the wire breaks was tough because we had to do so in all kinds of weather and at night. To keep up with the infantry units, we were moving all the time."
He had many stories of "close calls". Among them was a time while driving his jeep, German artillery punctured several cans of juice. Ray remembered the bubbling sound as the juice ran over the floor of the jeep. The shrapnel missed Ray by mere inches.
One other time Ray and his men were surprised by a German tank. The tank fired point blank at Ray and his crew and missed hitting a brick wall instead. For some reason the tank didn't fire again but left. Had that tank tried one more fire the outcome for Raymond could have been very different.
Raymond survived the war to return to his family eventually marrying Mary Ann Shull and having 5 daughters. One of those daughters is Audrey Adamson mother of intern Eamon Adamson. Raymond worked for Bell Telephone Company for many years in New Jersey. He died in 2013 but lived long enough for Eamon to spend time with him and hear first hand some of his stories. Raymond's other trademark was his thankfulness. He never took anything he received for granted. He loved God, family and country. Veteran's Day meant a lot to Raymond and I can't help but remember him on this day.