breaking news

Fairgrounds get $50k to rebrand site as Champions Park

Museum seeks more space for preserving some invaluable history


The Champaign Aviation Museum has started a capital campaign to raise funds for expansion of its current hangar.

The museum specializes in restoring World War II-era aircraft. It opened in 2007, and a group of volunteers has been working on restoration of planes since before that, in 2006.

Dozens of volunteers are now working on a gray, black and yellow B-17. It is taking up half of the 23,000-square-foot facility, which is not leaving room for many other projects.

“The B-17 is obviously one of the most iconic World War II aircraft that there (is),” Champaign Aviation Museum Executive Director Dave Shiffer said.

RELATED : Springfield aircraft repair company might expand in Kansas

The museum would like to double its current space. That expansion would cost $2.3 million. The museum has been talking about expansion for the past year and a half, Shiffer said.

“People want to donate aircraft to the museum, and it’s because we are a flying museum they want to see the aircraft that they know and love to continue to fly,” he said.

The project’s need became more evident in the spring, when two donors wanted to give planes to the museum, but space was an issue. The extra space of an expansion would allow the museum to work on more projects.

RELATED : 3 aviation pioneers to be honored with statues

“We are looking for private donations. We are asking people for money. We are applying for grants,” Shiffer said.

That money will be used to expand the existing hangar. When restoration is completed on the current B-17 project, space will be needed to maintain it and other World War II aircraft. The added space will allow the aircraft to be displayed and protected. That will cost $1.4 million.

The funds will also be used for an educational space, which will teach the public about history, including the people who served and the planes that flew. That extra space will cost $400,000, and an endowment of $500,000 is part of the plan.

Most volunteers who work in the museum have some connection to World War II, including many through fathers or uncles. One volunteer, Mike Pfarr, fits that profile. His father was an airman in World War II.

“My father was a B-17 tail gunner in World War II,” Pfarr said.

Pfarr’s father was stationed in Lavenham, England, was a member of the 487th Bomb Crew and flew 28 missions.

“I couldn’t get a lot of information from my dad,” he said. “So, whenever I could, it was golden. I held it in my heart and now I am doing this as a memory to my father.”

He heard more stories when his family had to take his father to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dayton in the 1960s. He still had metal fragments, called flak, in his body.

“I feel like I’m closer to my dad, and I really believe that he knows what is going on here. I feel that strongly,” Pfarr said.

The new facility is planned to be operational by 2020.

If you would like to donate to the campaign, contact the Champaign Aviation Museum at 937-652-4710.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Ohio officials tell residents not to worry: We’re not Hawaii
Ohio officials tell residents not to worry: We’re not Hawaii

Breath easy Ohio: The type of panic that occurred from a false alarm about an imminent missile strike in Hawaii over the weekend wouldn’t likely happen here. If you have a cell phone that receives text messages, you will automatically receive any alerts sent over the emergency system to warn Ohioans of tornadoes, flash floods or even an incoming...
Fears grow as shutdown deadline nears
Fears grow as shutdown deadline nears

President Donald Trump and Congress appear to be careening toward a partial shutdown of the federal government, though lawmakers expressed some hope Tuesday they can at least approve a temporary spending bill that would keep the government running beyond the Friday deadline. It’s far from a sure bet, though, and there are growing fears the government...
Eyelashes freeze, thermometer breaks as -62°C temperatures hit world's coldest village
Eyelashes freeze, thermometer breaks as -62°C temperatures hit world's coldest village

As Americans continue to brave the winter weather, photos from a remote village in Russia might make them count their blessings that it’s not worse. According to the experts, Oymyakon in Siberia is the world’s coldest permanently inhabited area. Recent temperatures came in at a bone-chilling -62°C, or -79.6°F. In fact...
Flu outbreak forces an entire school district in Oklahoma to cancel classes for rest of week
Flu outbreak forces an entire school district in Oklahoma to cancel classes for rest of week

An entire Oklahoma school district canceled classes Wednesday through Friday after schools reported excessive flu absences among much of the staff. >> Read more trending news  Morris Public Schools said Monday's absences were at 20 percent, and Tuesday's were at more than 30 percent. Basketball teams will continue competition in the...
Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski found dead with apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound
Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinski found dead with apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound

Police in Pullman, Washington, say officers have found Washington State University quarterback Tyler Hilinkski dead Tuesday in an apartment with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.  At about 4:30 p.m., officers responded to an apartment to check on the welfare of a football player who did not show up for practice earlier in the day...
More Stories