Historic WWII aircraft reunite for 80th Anniversary of Sioux Gateway Airport and Sioux City’s River-Cade celebration
Conroe, TX (June 1, 2022) In cities across the U.S., vintage military aircraft rest quietly in museums, where school children and tourists admire them, take their pictures and leave them behind closed doors at the end of each day. This summer, aviation history blasts out of the museums and into the skies as the Commemorative Air Force thunders into Sioux City. Sioux Gateway Airport will host American aviation history as the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) holds an event featuring restored WWII aircraft for public viewing and flights. Led by the iconic B-17 Flying Fortress Texas Raiders, four vintage aircraft will be in Sioux City June 19th through 24th to reunite for 80th Anniversary of Sioux Gateway Airport.
The B-17 Flying Fortress Texas Raiders is one of only three remaining that are actively flying in the U.S. today. This aircraft was the first Flying Fortress to be restored solely for the sake of education and use as a flying museum, and is an accurately restored B-17, bristling with machine guns and featuring period-specific equipment. Hosted by the Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation, local chapter 291 of the Experimental Aircraft Association and Hawthorne Aviation, the event will also include the only flying example in the world of the notorious Helldiver dive-bomber, plus the popular SNJ/T6 Texan advanced trainer in which thousands of airmen trained for combat, and a twin engine Navy transport in which the whole family can fly together. Notable for their historic importance and excellent level of restoration, all four warbirds will offer cockpit tours and flights to the public beginning Tuesday July 19th.
The public is invited to enjoy on-board tours and warbird flights with the aircraft crews at Revv Aviation, 6121 Pershing Street, Sioux City, Iowa 51111. Admission to the event is $15 each for adults and teens, $10 for children under 12, and $25 for a family of up to five and includes access to all the aircraft for cockpit tours as well as full admission to the Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation located nearby at 2600 Expedition Court. Warbird flights start as low as $100 on the Navy transport, and on the T6 advanced trainer for $380. Seats on the B-17 start at $495 and a flight on the dive-bomber is $995. Ground tours will be conducted from 10:00 PM to 4:00 PM on Tuesday through Sunday July 19th through 24th, excluding flying times. Those who wish to fly can call 855-FLY-A-B17 (1-855-359-2217) or reserve online at B17TexasRaiders.org See more on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/B17TexasRaiders .
About the 80th Anniversary of Sioux Gateway Airfield
The CAF B-17 Flying Fortress Texas Raiders will reunite with Sioux City Army Air Base as part of the 80th Anniversary of the airfield in Sioux City. Now called Sioux Gateway Airport, the air base was built after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and was dedicated in July of 1942. In addition to the CAF Warbird Expo, the museum will host other events as well as participate in additional River-Cade celebrations including a parade appearance on Wednesday July 20 and a Pancake Breakfast and Car Show on Saturday, July 23.
About the Commemorative Air Force
Collecting, restoring and flying vintage historic aircraft for more than half a century, the CAF mission is to educate, inspire and honor through flight. The CAF is a 501 (c) 3 educational organization, and has over 12,000 members and a fleet of 180 airplanes distributed throughout the U.S. For more information, visit commemorativeairforce.org
On May 12 - 15, 2022, Liberty, a beautifully restored airliner of 1928 will fly passengers at Sioux Gateway Brigidare General Bud Day field (SUX). The aircraft is part of EAA's tour planes and will be at Hawthorne Aviation Services. The visit is part of the summer activities sponsored by the local EAA Chapter 291 and the air museum.
The full background and stats of Liberty follows. We think you'll enjoy it -- we did. Come see Liberty when it arrives. Those who purchase a seat will also receive a complimentary pass to see the air museum.
Liberty Aviation Museum’s 1928 Ford Tri-Motor 5-AT-B, serial No. 8, flew its first flight on December 1, 1928. It was sold to Transcontinental Air Trans-port (TAT, the logo that graces the aircraft’s fuselage today) in January 1929 where it became NC9645 and was named City of Wichita.
It inaugurated westbound transcontinental commercial air service on July 7, 1929; with sister ship City of Columbus. In April 1931, ownership of the aircraft was transferred to Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA). Here the aircraft helped in the development of TWA’s route system. In July 1935, NC9645 was sold to G. Ruckstill and entered the fleet at Grand Canyon Airlines. From there the Tin Goose was sold to Boulder Dam Tours in February 1937, where it entered sightseeing air tour service. The Ford was registered AN-AAS with Transportes Aereos del Continente Americano (simply known as TACA Airlines) in Honduras in December 1937, where it stayed until 1942 when purchased by an unknown operator in Compeche, Mexico, and reregistered as XA-FUB.
The registration changed again in 1950 to XA-NET while under the ownership of another individual in Compeche. 1951 brought major overhaul and repairs for serial No. 8, including removal of the aircraft’s corrugated skin, which was replaced with flat sheet metal. This change earned the aircraft nickname “the smooth-skin Ford.” The aircraft was sold to another private owner in July 1953 and was damaged in an accident in January 1954, after which it was put in storage. Eugene Frank of Caldwell, Idaho, acquired the aircraft in 1955, moving it back to the U.S. and reregistering it as N58996.
It remained in storage until July 1964, when it was purchased by Nevada’s William F. Harrah of Harrah’s Hotel and Casinos. Harrah returned the plane’s registration to NC9645 and began an extensive seven-year restoration, which brought the aircraft back to airworthy status and replaced the smooth skin with corrugated sheet metal. The former smooth-skin Ford had its first post-restoration flight in 1971 and flew in Reno several times before being moved to static display as part of Harrah’s impressive automobile collection. After Harrah’s death, parts of his collection, including NC9645, were auctioned off in June 1986 to high bidder Gary Norton of Athol, Idaho. In February 1990, the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, acquired the aircraft. It remained in storage there until 1996 when another restoration of the aircraft started, returning it to flying condition once again.
In 2014, the aircraft was acquired by Ed Patrick and the Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton, OH. After further maintenance to ensure the aircraft was tour-ready, Liberty entered into a lease agreement with EAA, working together to showcase the historic aircraft around the country.
Cruise Speed – 122 MPH Range – 560 Miles
Ceiling – 18,500 Feet
Wing Span – 77 Feet 6 Inches
Length – 50 Feet 3 Inches
Height – 12 Feet 8 Inches
Max Seating – 12
Cruise Speed – 122 MPH
Turning Radius – 60 Foot-Wide Runway
Fuel – 100LL Avgas (Capacity 277-355 Gallons)
PHOTO SOURCE: Photographs of Liberty are owned and copyrighted by EAA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLgTlTCxitg (for more history)
Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation Selected to Participate in National Museum Assessment Program
by Pam Mickelson
The Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation in Sioux City has been selected to participate in the Museum Assessment Program (MAP), which is administered by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM). Through guided self-study assessment and on-site consultation with a museum professional, participation in MAP will empower the museum to better serve the citizens of the Siouxland Region by facilitating its meeting and exceeding the highest professional standards of the museum field.
The museum’s participation is made possible through funding provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). MAP helps museums strengthen operations, plan for the future, and meet standards through self-study assessment and a consultative site visit from an expert peer reviewer.
MAMAT has chosen to do a MAP Organizational Assessment in order to develop a strategic plan and align resources to bring the history of aviation and transportation to the region. Board director Pam Mickelson says, “the AAM resources and self-assessment study is very enlightening. We are excited to have been selected for the 2021 class with 90 other museums across the United States and look forward to learn from the industry leader with a reviewer on site this Fall.”
“Choosing to be part of the MAP program is indicative of the commitment to civic involvement, public service and overall excellence on the part of Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation,” said Laura Lott, president of AAM. “Studies have shown America’s museums to be among the country’s most trusted and valued institutions. MAP is designed to make them even better.”
Since its creation in 1981, the MAP program has served over 5,000 museums. MAP is supported through a cooperative agreement between AAM and IMLS. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. To learn more about the Institute, please visit: http://www.imls.gov.
The Boeing 727 Fed Ex plane was donated to the museum and put in place by EAA volunteers with the Jetway in 2010. It was a major contribution to the museum and a big project that required many partners to change the way the museum delivers an education program.
The FedEx was briefly open for the public, but a new education program called Tennis Shoes on the Tarmac gives the retired cargo plane another purpose. But first the interior needed some love. NCCC AmeriCorps team worked diligently in 2014 to strip the interior to prep it for the next phase. In fact, last fall, one of the team members stopped in to see what his team did. He was very proud to be part of the project and wanted to see a bucket of the bolts he helped remove.
In addition, funds from the Gilchrist Foundation and MRHD supported interior renovation including electrical, insulation, and air units that are in place.
The Siouxland Junior League were the first to fund the curriculum called Tennis Shoes on the Tarmac. Tennis Shoes on the Tarmac curriculum first began as a set of slides developed to take a young visitor around the museum on a quest to answer questions and find artifacts to do so. A sort of aviation and transportation inspired scavenger hunt. The Iowa Governors STEM grants supported faculty to be trained in curriculum used in leading elementary STEM schools. The Tennis Shoes on the Tarmac is now an umbrella title that inspired and jump started work with young people and their families.
Suzanne Bartels is the Education Director and developed a day camp for the summer of 2019. She interviewed each family, and one mom was so excited to find a new program for her sons. She said it was nice for her family to meet new kids with like interests and learn cool lessons around aviation.
The curriculum uses STEM learning strategies – hands on activities with self-discovery and continuous reflection. The supplies are common items – coffee filters, string, notebooks, pencils, etc. Each child records actions they witnessed, discussed the similarities and differences, and at the end took home a journal, a certificate, new books, and new friendships.
Now, what is needed is a new place for the students and the families to learn more....and get more Tennis Shoes on the Tarmac and in the FedEx.
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