The restoration of the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum’s Demoiselle reproduction has begun anew with help from members of EAA Chapter 64 and the Gateway Area Ultralight Association (GAUA). The bamboo and steel tube aircraft, designed by Alberto Santos-Dumont as his model 20 in 1908, featured a 30hp opposed V-engine and was flown in exhibitions in Europe and the U.S. in 1909-1910. About 50 were produced and more were constructed by individuals using plans. It was also sold in kit form by St. Louis aircraft maker Tom Benoist in 1910.
The museum’s aircraft, a flying replica made in 1970 by Mr. John Mirka from plans he found in a 1910 edition of Popular Mechanics, flew once just a few feet off the ground. The aircraft was donated to the museum when it was called the St. Louis Aviation Museum and based at Creve Coeur Airport in St. Louis County. Since then it has been on display at various times and has been in storage for years awaiting restoration.
A group of mechanically-inclined volunteers has formed to restore the Demoiselle replica for non-flying display at the museum. The group is led by Travis Roberts, EAA 64 member, ultralight pilot and GAUA President. Roberts and museum and EAA 64 member Dave Sneddon began the assessment process of the Demoiselle’s current condition, and made some preliminary plans for fabricating new attachment hardware for the empennage, the gimbaled horizontal and vertical tail assembly. Work will continue through the summer, and updates will appear periodically as major milestones are completed.
The museum encourages anyone with an interest in participating in the restoration project to contact the museum through the website. Donations for materials needed to complete the project are also appreciated.
The Gallery exhibits at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum have been updated recently to improve the layout and visibility of the displays. Curator Mike Burke has been the driving force behind improving the visitor experience at the museum over the last several years, and has made much progress in what is a constant evaluation and improvement process. The museum has recently received several excellent display cases from the nearby Boeing St. Louis facility, and work is on-going to install them in the gallery. Along with the improved gallery exhibits, the museum has re-installed the F-4 Phantom II cockpit on long-term loan, begun restoration projects for several vintage aircraft, and welcomed back the Pietenpol home-built aircraft restored by EAA Chapter 64, which meets at St. Louis Downtown Airport as well. The museum welcomes visitors Fri-Sun 10am-4pm and groups also by appointment.
The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum accepted a number of new exhibit items in December on long-term loan from Gateway STEM High School Aviation Engineering program. The museum has built a relationship with Gateway STEM High School through its association with the St. Louis Community College Aerospace Institute workforce development programs. The well-equipped Gateway STEM High School Aviation Engineering facility uses modern equipment to teach airframe and powerplant mechanics, and management was ready to pass along some of the more “historic” equipment to the museum for staff training and educational exhibition beginning this spring. That surplus equipment took the form of four 1950s-era engines and a rare wind-tunnel model used in the development of an early McDonnell Aircraft jet, the Model 119.
Several deliveries were made within the last ten days to complete the relocation of the items. On December 13, four engines were delivered with the donated help from our friends at Bollmeier Construction Company, Inc. Included in the loan were two General Electric J33-A-35 jet engines manufactured by the Allison Division of General Motors in Indianapolis – 2 of over 15,000 manufactured for aircraft including the Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star jet trainer; a General Electric J47-GE-11 jet engine (cutaway) – a popular engine used to power the F-86 Sabre and the Boeing B-47 Stratojet medium bomber among others; and a Pratt & Whitney R2800 Double Wasp radial engine (cutaway) – used to power most fighters and medium bombers of the World War II era. The engines can be seen in the museum’s hangar, though they will not be set up for exhibit until the coming spring.
On December 19, a team of museum members returned to Gateway STEM High School to pick up another loaned artifact that may be the only one of its kind – a 13% scale, low-speed wind tunnel model of the McDonnell Aircraft Model 119. Museum members were astonished to see it stored in the rafters of the Gateway STEM High School facility during a visit earlier this year, and the museum is grateful to receive it for repair and display along with the high-speed wind tunnel model and a large display model of the aircraft already in the collection. The model was dirty and contained some paint chips, but it was in remarkably good condition for a 50+ year old artifact. There was only one actual McDonnell Model 119 (later Model 220) manufactured, and after failing to receive military or civilian orders, it was sold to private owners and now resides in El Paso, TX in non-flying condition. The museum hopes to put the aircraft on display if a sponsor can be found to assist in acquiring it.
Special thanks to Museum President (and The Aero Experience Contributor) Mark Nankivil for pursuing the loan of these items. Also, thanks to Gateway STEM High School Instructor Paul Voorhees, Ray Bollmeier of Bollmeier Construction Company, Inc., Museum Curator Mike Burke, Museum Curator Emeritus Jack Abercrombie, and other museum volunteers who helped with the move and in the operation of the museum.
The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum has been updating some of it’s exhibits, and we thought you would like a look at the new arrangements. Better yet, visit the museum for yourself and surround yourself in St. Louis area aviation history!
Anyone traveling through Lambert-St. Louis International Airport recently may have seen an exhibit by the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum next to Baggage Carousel 1. The Museum has been given the use of two Community Group Windows there for three months beginning July 15. Tom Ahillen, Doug Bent, and Jack Abercrombie transported some of our exhibits to Lambert on the start date and began setting up the display, although several other people were involved in the planning of the layout and the selection of materials.
The display is a great opportunity for exposing the museum to potential visitors, so we wanted to make our display as eye-catching as possible. So we started with some of the TWA and Ozark stewardess outfits. Then we added samples of items from various areas of the museum’s holdings that would keep viewers interested. The total length of the display area is sixty feet, and the case extends about five feet deep behind the windows. Our items are arranged in generally chronological order from left to right.
We have received good feedback from the people on the airport Public Relations staff. Several visitors have come to the museum because they saw the exhibit, so it appears to be accomplishing our goal, too. This has been a learning experience, since we had not previously attempted a display of this size off-site for this kind of an audience. But the location and the impression given by the display appear to go together well.
Thanks especially to Doug Bent for helping setup and donating a mannequin, Joe Gutknecht for making the signs and helping with the layout, Jack Abercrombie for lending us the 1923 aviation map for display, our Curator Mike Burke and to all the others who aided getting this display together.
The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum brought the F-4 cockpit to the USO fundraising event, Gypsy Rendezvous, Saturday at Gateway Harley-Davidson in South St. Louis County. Gateway Harley-Davidson sponsors monthly USO fundraisers to serve our veterans, and donated the motorcycle that was refurbished by Jet Aviation at St. Louis Downtown Airport for Army Specialist Chad Hembree, who will be a special guest at the upcoming Midwest Airport Fun Days event. We thank Gateway Harley-Davidson for their hospitality, and look forward to working with them on future events.
The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum recently received several high-profile aviation artifacts to add to its already impressive collection at its location in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport. The museum has been preserving and exhibiting local aviation history for over 30 years, and continues to attract donations from across the region. The museum receives hundreds of items each year of all types relating to St. Louis and Metro East Illinois aviation. Additionally, the museum has a world-class archive of media relating to aviation history throughout the world that is regularly used by researchers in their books and professional journal articles. Recent donations include:
Low-Speed Wind Tunnel model of the McDonnell Aircraft 119/220 executive jet prototype of the late 1950′s was donated by the University of Michigan. The McDonnell 119/220 aircraft lost a military contract to the Lockheed Jetstar, and the only prototype was the personal aircraft of James S. McDonnell for a time before being sold to private owners. The aircraft currently resides at El Paso International Airport, TX.
Albatros D.III 7/8 scale replica wings along with plans and materials for the rest of the aircraft were donated by the family of the Late Andrew Smith of the Camdenton, MO area. The wings were meticulously constructed, and the museum will pursue completion of the project with the assistance of other interested parties in the future.