F-4 Phantom

McDonnell Douglas Retirees Visit Museum, Donate Space Mission Memorabilia

Members of a McDonnell Douglas retiree group, informally known as the “Mac Old Team,” visited the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum, located in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport, this week following their last monthly luncheon meeting of the year.  The group has made several visits to the museum in recent years, and individual members have donated significant pieces of aerospace memorabilia that now reside in the museum galleries.  Joining the group this year were several students and their Director from the Vincennes University  Center for Technology, Innovation & Manufacturing and leaders of the Purdue Alumni Club of Jasper, Indiana.  Also present was a group of high school students representing “Learning Experiences in Applied Fields,” a peer-to-peer mentoring group that currently assists students in areas of technology studies.  The connection to the Indiana education institutions is an outgrowth of a visit by some McDonnell Douglas retirees to the Virgil I. Gus Grissom Memorial Museum in Mitchell, Indiana for the 50th anniversary of Grissom’s (McDonnell Aircraft Company-designed) Mercury spacecraft flight in 2011.  Since then, visitor exchanges have occurred to solidify the new relationship between the McDonnell Douglas retirees, museums and education institutions in the respective states.

Norm Beckel, “Mac Old Team” group leader, speaks to members during lunch at
“Spinners” restaurant at the airport prior to their museum visit
During the visit to the museum, retiree group member Carl Scheske presented a collection of Space Shuttle memorabilia, including mission patches, posters and prints donated by fellow retiree John Schuessler (left).  The items, accepted by museum Curator Mike Burke (center) and museum President Mark Nankivil (right), will become part of a future exhibit.
Following the presentation, members of the McDonnell Douglas retiree group and the visitors from Indiana toured the museum, some for the first time.  The students in the group were drawn to the life-size, interactive exhibits such as the restored F-4 Phantom II jet fighter cockpit, “Spirit of St. Louis” cockpit reproduction, aircraft in the hangar and the functioning Link Trainers.  Other gallery exhibits, such as the jet engine cut-away working model and the pilot flight gear display, sparked conversations between the retired engineers and the students about the development of jet propulsion and the corresponding issues concerning flight crew physiological health with jet and rocket flight.  The real success of the visit was seeing the interaction between the pioneers of the jet and space age and the very bright, new generation of students starting to make their mark on the future of the nation’s aerospace industry.
McDonnell Douglas retiree Nelson Weber (Center) discusses
the operation of a jet engine with visiting students
A visiting student examines the F-4 Phantom II restored cockpit
Forest Park High School (Ferdinand, IN) Senior Jason Brier flies a 1940s era Link Trainer
Some of the McDonnell Douglas retirees were present in the plant in 1962 when James S. McDonnell, Chairman and CEO of McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, drove President John F. Kennedy in the factory cart now on display at the museum.  Those in attendance posed near the cart, from L-R: Nelson Weber, Carl Scheske, Earl Robb, Wade Wilkerson, Dean Purdy, Tim Tinsley, and Donald Alwine.
Special thanks to Norm Beckel and the “Mac Old Team” for arranging the luncheon and visit to the museum with our visitors from Indiana.  Also thanks to museum Curator Emeritus Jack Abercrombie for coordinating the visit to the museum.

Group of Retired McDonnell Aircraft Employees Visits Museum

A group of about 60 retired McDonnell Aircraft/McDonnell Douglas employees visited the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Musuem last week following their monthly luncheon.  Many worked on the Mercury and Gemini space programs, while others worked on missiles and military aircraft made at McDonnell Aircraft and later McDonnell Douglas throughout the Cold War era.  The museum has a significant collection of Mercury and Gemini program artifacts, and also features McDonnell fighter aircraft such as the F-4 Phantom II in its exhibits.  The museum congratulated the group of accomplished aerospace workers, and presented a personal greeting sent by astronaut John Glenn, third Mercury astronaut and first American to orbit the earth.  In the future, the museum will interview several in attendance that day for its oral history program.  Among the guests were Norman Beckel, group organizer; Rose Church, McDonnell flight nurse to the astronauts; Joe Dobronski, McDonnell test pilot.

McDonnell Aircraft retirees visit the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum















Group organizer Norman Beckel reads the greeting from astronaut John Glenn




















Norman Beckel and Rose Church react to the John Glenn letter



















EAA Chapter 64 and Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Host Successful Fly-In

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum and EAA Chapter 64 hosted a successful open house and fly-in Saturday at historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2, St. Louis Downtown Airport.  Visitors toured the museum’s aerospace history galleries and viewed the aircraft parked in the hangar and on the adjacent ramp.  The F-4 Phantom II fighter jet cockpit and child moving flight simulator were popular, and the pancake breakfast and burger/brat lunch kept everyone satisfied throughout the hot day.  Special thanks to all of those who flew in from other home airports to visit with us and show off your aircraft.  Another fly-in is being planned for the fall, so look for further details in September.

Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Displays Newest Attraction

The Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum is sprucing up its hangar to accommodate its newest display – an F-4 Phantom II cockpit restored by Joe Steimann.  The aircraft cockpit, originally from a McDonnell Douglas F-4F stricken from the German Air Force after an accident, is now in the colors of the MO ANG 131st TFW formerly based in St. Louis.  Other aircraft on display include a BD-5, 1941 Meyers OTW previously owned by Nikki Caplan, Pietenpole Air Camper as well as several sailplanes and missiles. 

Make it your New Year’s Resolution to visit the museum at historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2, St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, IL.   

Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Receives Restored F-4 Phantom Cockpit on Loan

The Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum has received a restored F-4 Phantom II cockpit on loan through the spring of 2012.  The owner, Joe Steimann, restored the cockpit and nose section of the aircraft to resemble F-4E s/n. 68-0338 flown by the 131st TFW,  Missouri Air National Guard, formerly based in St. Louis.  The cockpit is actually from a German F-4F that was damaged in an engine fire, and after being used as a trainer was destined to be scrapped.  Steimann purchased the remnants of the cockpit and restored it.  The cockpit can be seen at airshows and corporate events during the airshow season, but you can see it now at the Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum located in historic Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2 at St. Louis Downtown Airport.  For more information about the museum, please visit http://airandspacemuseum.org/.

Owner Joe Steimann poses with the F-4 cockpit before restoration

F-4 cockpit arrives at the Museum's Curtiss-Wright Hangar 2

Closer view of the restored F-4 cockpit at the Museum

F-4 cockpit exhibit is now in the Museum's hangar