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Vintage air power in Port Clinton on Labor Day weekend

Port Clinton resident and Tuskegee Pilot Col. (Ret.) Harold H. Brown with the P51 Mustang similar to the one he flew in World War II. Brown will be joining the RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit coming to Erie Ottawa Regional Airport Aug 29-Sept. 1. 

Liberty Aviation Museum and Tri-Motor Heritage Museum in Port Clinton have, in their first year of operation, become a go-to location for enthusiasts of the Golden Age of Aviation and Warbirds of WWII in Northern Ohio. Adjacent to the revitalized Erie Ottawa Regional Airport, the museums, Tin Goose Diner and airport are attracting those interested in history and aviation and have become a favorite destination for tourists and for local citizens.

On any given weekend vintage aircraft owners fly in to the airport, taxi over to the museum and stop in at the vintage 1950’s Tin Goose Diner for a meal. The museum’s award winning B-25J “Georgie’s Gal” is often seen taking off to an air show or doing a flyover, giving guests the opportunity to see something few people have experienced. The Tri-Motor Heritage Museum and local EAA Chapter 1247 are restoring to flying condition a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor, the famed aircraft that ran service to the Lake Erie islands from 1930 through 1985. Yankee Air Museum’s B-17 Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady” stops in on a regular basis, offering the opportunity to crew and experience the flight of a lifetime.

Labor Day weekend 

The CAF Red Tail Squadron’s RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit will be at the Erie Ottawa airport from Aug. 29 through Sept.1. RISE ABOVE tells the story of the Tuskegee Airmen to young people in an experiential way. “We are truly blessed by having this exhibit at Port Clinton for a second year,” states Liberty Aviation Museum President and CEO Edward Patrick.

The RISE ABOVE exhibit, housed in a 53’ long semi-rig, contains a 30-seat temperature-controlled movie theater with a 160–degree panoramic screen. The RISE ABOVE movie shows highlights of the Tuskegee Airmen and how they overcame obstacles to be allowed to train and fight as U.S. Army Air Corp pilots. More than 10,000 other black men and women also trained to support the pilots. The movie also will also give viewers a feel for what it’s like to pilot a P-51Mustang.

“People think they have it bad now,” states museum volunteer H. Harvey Lembeck, “these guys had to fight two wars--the first war, to win the right to fly and fight, and the second against the Nazi Fascists.” The goal of the CAF Red Tail Squadron RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit is to teach the six guiding principles of the Tuskegee Airmen. Every youngster or school student who visits the Exhibit and watches the RISE ABOVE movie is given a free dog tag with these principles inscribed on it: “Aim high. Believe in yourself. Never quit. Be ready to go. Use your brain. Expect to win.”

Airport director Stan Gebhardt points out, “We are fortunate to be able to host both the Traveling Exhibit and the famous and rare P-51C Mustang Red Tail at the same time. While the Traveling Exhibit can visit schools or community centers, you typically cannot bring in the real aircraft these guys flew, set it down and let guests see this amazing piece of history and see it take off and land.” Gebhardt adds, “In addition we will have local Tuskegee Airman Col. (Ret.) Harold Brown on site each day between the hours of 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to meet with the children and talk of his own experiences”. The 2012 Lucasfilm’s movie “Red Tails” is a composite of the true life experiences of many of these pilots. One key scene in the movie is based on Brown’s own adventure.

The airport and museum have also collaborated on a raffle to win the rare opportunity for a ride on the P-51C Mustang Red Tail. Only 100 tickets will be sold at $100 each. Tickets will be sold at Liberty Aviation Museum until the day of the drawing, Aug. 31, at 5:30 p.m. The winning ticket owner will be able to make arrangements for the ride on either Sept. 7 or 8.

As a further attraction on Labor Day weekend, the Yankee Air Museum’s B-17 Flying Fortress “Yankee Lady” will be on site on Saturday, Aug. 31, offering ground tours and FLEX rides, where you can actually take a crew member position and fly a “mission” over the Lake Erie shores and islands. These rides may be pre-booked at 734.483.4030.

Another coming attraction

The ground crew at the Liberty Aviation Museum is excited about the new addition coming into the hangar collection this month. Courtesy of owner and LAM member Charlie Cartledge a TBM Avenger Torpedo Bomber will be available for viewing. This is the same type of Navy bomber President George H. Walker Bush flew in World War II. Cartledge recently completed a 14 year restoration of this operational aircraft, which is painted in a three tone Navy scheme. 

For more information, contact Liberty Aviation Museum at www.libertyaviationmuseum.org or 419.734.6297and Erie Ottawa Regional Airport at www.portclintonairport.com or 419.732.0234.

Photo by Donna Lueke

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