In mid-June my brother-in-law and I went to Pueblo’s Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. I like aircraft museums, and this was no exception. It is a small museum, but what it lacked in volume it more than made up by the visitors being able to get up and personal with the planes. They allow access to some of the aircraft on a rotating basis so as to minimize wear and tear on these old war-birds.
Edited to Add: I was remiss in reminding people about the SmugMug gallery associated with this post. You can either click HERE or any of the photos, and you’ll be taken to the photo gallery (191 photos, all annotated, with each plane identified).
The Museum commemorates the site of Pueblo’s WW II B-24 training base which was in operation from 1942 through 1946, but there are displays covering major air conflicts through modern times. There is a lot of information, donated artifacts, and history covered in two indoor hangars and a modest outdoor display.
The interesting thing about the above mission record is that a few missions were flown after the US dropped Fat Man and Little Boy. I think one was on the same day, but obviously a different part of Japan.
The centerpiece of the museum is “Peachy”, a B-29 superfortress. Big Plane. And if you look at Peachy’s face . . . “Hey buddy!! Eyes up here!!” she looks positively mean. I remember depictions of scantily clad women adorning planes in other museums looking friendlier. Must be a Texas gal (I’ll explain that in another post).
There are a number of notable aircraft housed in the two hangars. The Sikorsky SH-34I is the actual support helicopter that took part in recovering Alan Shepard and the Freedom 7 capsule after they splashed down.
Another craft is the legendary Bell Huey UH-1-H Iriquois. I think my generation has the sound of these helicopter forever burned in their memories.
And while I know I am covering mostly helicopters, I need to do one more.
Don’t worry, that’s not a real casualty. You have to see this thing to believe it. It looks like it’s put together using spare parts from a lawn mower, a park bench, and Maxwell Smart’s Cone of Silence. I suppose they were built like that so that they would be both easily recognizable as medical crafts, and not present a threat to them crazy North Korean.
Made famous by the show M.A.S.H., the Bell H47B too is instantly recognizable by a couple of generation on either side of mine (although this is the first time I saw the actual craft).
One of the outside displays is the C119 Flying Boxcar. Those familiar with the movie The Flight of the Phoenix may think you can cut one of the engine booms from the fuselage, attach the other wing to it, and fly it to safety. All I can say is . . . I doubt it.
Along with the various souvenirs and photograph was this incredible, and tragic set of pictures.
These are actual photos of bombs, from friendly planes above those shown, clipping the engine of one of the B-26 Marauders. It veers into the plane next to it, and both aircraft crash.
Looking at these vintage planes one is amazed at their construction. True, aeroplane design has basically remained the same, with improvements mainly in computerization, controls, safety, and materials.
But when you look at these things it brings home to you the fact people took risks flying these things, and I don’t mean just from the enemy. They cranked these babies out as fast as they could, and the effort was to quantity, not quality.
Still, the fact remains wars were won with these aircraft flown by very young men eager to fulfill their desire to protect their country.
No, not these boys . . . these boys were fighting for these babes:
I got to say this, even though some may call me on it. These women were lookers!! Not enough to make me climb into one of them-there flying contraptions with a load of bombs strapped to my ass, but I would have to give it serious thought.
If any reader is ever in this neck of the woods, a trip to this small museum is well worth it.
Edited-To-Add: As was pointed out on the comments below, this museum is staffed and run by volunteers. They are friendly, dedicated to what they do (as Leonard says below, it is a labor of love), and they too are part of the attraction. Should you want to you can spend some of the time listening to their stories; you would be listening to first hand accounts of history.
The museum also hosts activities for families; the day we were there they were having a paper airplane competition. Ostensibly for kids, it looked like the adults were fairly involved into it. Earlier this year they had a fly-in of rare vintage aircraft (something they hope to turn into a yearly event).
I’ll repeat that overall this was a very enjoyable place to visit, and recommended to anyone who is interested in planes, history, and learning about the interaction of the two.