|By Leo Cachat|
Upon entry you will see several glass cases containing various pieces of military memorabilia: medals, helmets, uniforms, even a radio compass antennae from a B-17. You will also see many well crafted model aircraft hanging from the ceiling and displayed on top of several display cases. There is also a huge hand made model of the Titanic, which really grabs your attention, along with several radios, type writers and teletype machines used by the military at various times in history.
After spending time inside the display room, you then can make your way into their garage area where some real treats await. First thing you notice is the Iowa National Guard AH-1 Cobra helicopter with it's guns and rocket pods still attached and operational. Mr. Ron Cutter was on hand to explain how he restored the Cobra, showed how to activate launch sequences and even installed a working CD player. He took the time to pose with his labor of love, looking dapper in his Navy uniform, before allowing me to hop in the cockpit for a closer look at the instruments. The experience of being in the cockpit gave me a greater appreciation for the men who flew these gunships. After looking at the Cobra, the open cockpit of a T-33 caught my attention. I continued up the ramp to enter the cockpit and take a look in the cockpit of one of the greatest jet trainers in history. The engine for this trainer sits on the ground just left of the cockpit and is also accessible for inspection. There is also the frame of a Scweizer TG-6A glider hanging from the ceiling. Just below the glider is a mock up of a B-17 cockpit, in which you can sit and transport yourself back to the days of WWII and imagine yourself on a bomb run over Germany. And if you like vehicles, there are four vintage Army jeeps and two vintage Army trucks that you can examine.
While we were leaving after our enjoyable time there, a hand drawn map on the wall next to the door caught my eye. The map showed the directions to the Downtown Airport where an F-84 was on display, so it was off to the airport to see this beautiful little fighter. This F-84 looked sharp and well maintained, sitting on a platform inside the fence just left of the airport parking lot.
This concluded my visit to this nice and surprisingly vast museum. If you happen to be heading to Springfield or Branson, MO and you like military aviation or just like military history, stop in and see the great artifacts and talk to the very friendly and very hospitable staff. You won't be disappointed.
Here are more views from the museum visit: