Greetings from the Massey Aerodrome, home of the Massey Air Museum Inc!
We have had a fabulous year and it's a pleasure to report the progress regarding the people and activities at Massey.
There are two groups of people, those who come to visit and enjoy the Aerodrome and those who come and volunteer their help to make it such a special place. Many do both. We really appreciate all who come here. It is the people that make a difference.
Our visitor list has really grown. We have had visitors from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, as well as Florida, Ohio, Indiana, South Carolina, Nevada and Arizona
We are also internationally "known"; there have been visitors from England, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand.
Our mail list now numbers 387 people, most of who have been here at least once.
We have had visitors attend fabric covering seminars, and regulars that check in on the ongoing restoration projects that are done here.
Many of you know of the Young Eagle Flight program sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association. It is a program whereby volunteer pilots provide free introductory flights to youngsters.
We had a Young Eagles flight-day for the Galena-Massey area Cub Scouts and an open-to-the-public flight-day as well as numerous private flights during the year. We have now flown well over 100 youngsters out of Massey. Thank you pilots, parents and helpers.
That is a great way to show future generations what grassroots aviation is all about.
Regarding the Young Eagles Flights I want to especially thank Ralph DeGroodt and Dave Nelson. They have taken on the responsibility of coordinating Young Eagles activities in this area. Judy and Bob Thompson and their steady following of volunteers have all worked diligently to make the program successful. The EAA has just announced that the goal of flying 1 million kids has been reached. It has been deemed so successful that they plan to continue the program.
Last year's open hangar party was a great success in spite of a 9" snow fall the Wednesday before. We rolled the snow down to about 4" and four planes flew in. About 300 people arrived by car. They brought a supply of Hours D'oeuvres that fed all.
We had our first spring fly-in event the Saturday after Easter. It was a Chili Fiesta. A lot of people brought their favorite recipe. The weather was bad Saturday but we had it anyway in the shop. A good size crowd came. The weather outlook for Sunday looked good so we made it a two-day event. Perfect weather prevailed and a lot of planes flew in. Altogether about 200 people came and feasted on the chili. We plan to have a repeat the Saturday after Easter in 2004, again, rain date Sunday.
We have started to receive official public-service help from several volunteers. Josh Williamson and his friend Billy Rau painted the back of the east hangar to help fulfill a public service requirement to graduate high school.
We also had some great help from General Motors and the UAW. Dale Denisar, Charlie Cain and Rick Runkle are high seniority employees at the GM plant in Newport DE. While on layoff, because of their seniority, they are eligible for a program that keeps their pay and benefits whole if they do some type of public service work. We are the lucky recipients of that effort.
They have mowed all the grass, cleaned, painted and maintained the restoration shop and even updated our computer system.
There is however one minor problem I personally face for their efforts. As many of you may know I worked for many years as the human resources guy for a non-union manufacturing company. The idea that the UAW might show up at our plant was always fearful. These guys know about that and on almost a weekly basis they make me recite "I love the UAW and General Motors". It's a small price to pay and I do it willingly. Thanks guys.
This year the runway turf has strengthened and we filled some of the low spots that held water after rains, its much better now. There is still more of that to do.
We cut in a new taxiway to help with the congestion at the taxiway/runway intersection. Yes we do have congestion especially on nice flying days. The taxiway should be useable in the spring.
One of the really big jobs we faced was to finish the cleanup and re-grading behind the west hanger.
There were concrete and steel remains of an old grain handling facility that needed to be broken up and removed. That part is finally done thanks to Bill Malpass, Jim Sypherd and John Williamson. That job took a lot of time and muscle power.
Andy Schlosser from Roseland Nurseries lent us his seeder and Harry Dixon; a local farmer planted about 600 pounds of grass seed. It is already growing and looking great.
We installed another 48' door and new metal siding at the back of the west hangar. Ken Ryznar and Larry Tasker were a real help with this project. They had prior experience; they had helped on the other door last year. Rick Burns gave us an electric operator for it. It works great. Thanks guys.
New sod was installed so we now have a great apron at the back of both hangars. Frank Minnick happened to show up the day we tackled that job and he pitched in. He went home that night and could have stayed there. But, he came back the next day to finish the job. It was hard work and we sure do appreciate his help.
We installed a new roof on the old farmhouse garage. The "oldsters" did that job and all went home very sore that night. A lot of those muscles had not been used in a while.
About other projects here;
Ken Ryznar has flown off the required 25 hours on his Slip Stream Genesis. He is however still being plagued by engine problems. Maybe that is why they call it an "experimental" aircraft. I am sure he will tough it out and make it reliable.
Jim Kay has also flown off his 25 hours and seems to have conquered fuel injection woes he encountered. He flies it regularly. About three weeks ago he was one of four biplanes in the pattern. The place really had the look and feel of a grassroots airport that day.
Andy Schlosser's Stearman wings are finished and the plane is back in the air. It is a regular visitor here. It was one of the four biplanes just mentioned.
Penny Stidham's Vagabond engine cowl has been repaired and painted. That is a nice little Vag. he bought. He has it fixed up and looking great. It lives at Summit. I wish we had room for it here at Massey. It is a great grassroots airplane.
An Aeronca Champ got a new spar, some ribs and new fabric on the wing and aileron. That is a somewhat unusual job because the fabric is attached to the ribs by hundreds of little screws rather than by lashing in the traditional manner. There were some regular visitors monitoring its progress.
Bud Leonard cleaned out a storage container and we once again benefited from his generosity with another collection of aviation artifacts he had been storing. Among that was an engine for an aircraft tug. Jay Glitz has started on the re-build effort.
The next project here is my 1939 Piper Cub. Nothing is wrong with it. I just want to recheck a spar splice that has not been examined since 1967.
We received a very special gift from a very special person. Col. Ray Burleson had an old airport rotating-beacon he wanted us to have for the museum. He died before we could pick it up at his house. Thanks to the generosity of his family, they honored his wish for us to have it. We picked it up this fall and will refurbish it this winter.
Ray Burleson was one of those special men we rarely get to meet in one lifetime. He was a good friend of the museum. He quietly gave me encouragement and good advice from the time the idea of a museum was hatched until he died so unexpectantly.
He was a frequent visitor here. Whenever we had an event he would come. Wherever he sat or stood there would be a group around him. He was like a magnet. Those who knew him respected him and were drawn to him out of love and admiration for a great man. We do miss him. I am happy I got to know him.
You can read his obituary. It is posted on the office bulletin board.
His life and accomplishments were astounding.
Jim Douglass, Dec. 2003