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Aviation museum could be boon for Dutchess County.

A World War II airshow at the Dutchess County Airport in Wappingers Falls early this month was a benefit for a proposed museum that will be located at the airfield.

"Wings Over The Hudson" brought in flyers and airplanes from around the country, as well as thousands of ground watchers who toured the airplanes and stood in awe at the precision flying and acrobatic spectacles.

Craft ranged in age from a group of early biplanes to a fly-by of the modern F-15. The Corsair, a bent wing fighter, drew lots of attention, as did a Russian Yak 11 and the B-17 Memphis Belle that was used in the movie of the same name.

Jeff Clyman, chairman of the board for the American Museum for the Preservation of Historic Aircraft (AMPHA), and president of Avirex, Ltd., the parent company of Cockpit, the aviation retail store and catalog concern, said the planned museum will enjoy "sister museum" status with the Intrepid Air/Space Museum and would work closely with the Olde Rhinebeck Aerodrome, which concentrates on World War I planes.

To distinguish it from other aircraft museums, the AMPHA site at the Dutchess County Airport will have on display flight-worthy aircraft that would conduct operations throughout the year.

"We do not believe that museum aircraft hidden behind ropes and dipped in preservatives can connect a new generation of Americans with America's aviation history," he said.

Some of the planes that would become a part of the museum include the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-25 Billy Mitchell bomber, the Corsair, a Grumman Avenger and a North American Mustang fighter, all of which were on hand for the weekend festivities.

The $5 million dollar complex is being designed to become the leading destination center for historic aviation, restoration and research in the Northeast United States, Clyman noted. It is expected to generate millions of dollars in taxes, jobs and economic spin-offs to local businesses and industry in the county.

Harry Salon, principal of Salon Realty in Manhattan, is also a pilot and flew in to see the aircraft. He said the idea of a museum was wonderful. "There is a tremendous interest in antique planes," he observed. "The Oshkosh [Wisconsin] airshow has attendance of over 800,000. That's more than Woodstock."

The Dutchess County Airport is a nice but under-used facility, Salon said, and the museum would help generate air traffic in that area.

Salon said his favorite plane was the Stearman, the biplane. One of those is owned by, and was flown at the Dutchess show, by Michael Dale, president of Jaguar Cars of North America.

"A museum gets people interested in flying," Dale said. The lithe Englishman, who is based in New Jersey, also works with the Young Eagles program that provides opportunities around the country for children eight to eighteen to restore and work on planes as well as fly them. Dale himself began flying gliders at the age of 14 in England before joining the Royal Air Force.

General Charles "Chuck" Sweeney, who flew the missions to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, said the museum is "a marvelous idea for Dutchess County and for the children of the Hudson Valley and for aviation as a whole."

Once an agreement is signed with Dutchess County officials next month, a temporary facility will be erected, said an AMPHA spokesperson.
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Title Annotation:Dutchess County, New York
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Oct 12, 1994
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