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NSG Visit October 13, 2007

Wings of Eagles Discovery Center

Elmira, New York


Donovan A. Shilling

Bill and Martha Treichler arranged for members of the New Society of the Genesee to travel to the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center near Elmira. It was about 11:30 A.M. on Saturday, October 13th when the group arrived at the Old Country Buffet on Chambers Road. As usual much animated conversation was enjoyed while we dined on many of the selections offered by the restaurant's extensive buffet.

Following this we journeyed past the Chemung Regional Airport and located the airplane museum on Aviation Road. Displayed outside of the complex is a F-5 fighter plane that has had its engines removed by a Homeland Security Agency who, we're told, was absolutely positive that the plane would be captured, removed from its solid pedestal, taxied to some remote location and flown off by terrorists to somehow do a damage to the citizenry of southern frontier countryside.

For the senior $5.50 admission we entered the vast hanger complex and were greeted by Bob Young, our guide and veteran of World War II. We followed him into a the first of three huge hangers that held an array of both civilian and military aircraft.

As Bob Young stood in front of DC-3 he reminisced about how in 1948 those remarkable aircraft were flown on so many missions from Frankfort into a cloud covered Templehof Airfield during Russia's Blockade of Berlin. Following this our guide gave detailed descriptions of other aircraft: a Douglas B-25B bomber, a Bell UH-1H (heuey) helicopter, and several other military planes. He also pointed out a number of civilian aircraft and gliders that are flown regularly for airplane rides: a Boeing N2S (PT-17) Stearman, a Piper 1-3 (Cub), a Fairchild PT-19 Cornell (W.W.I1 trainer) and making a loud and distinctive engine noise, was a North American SNJ (AT-6) Texan. This plane, used as a trainer for both the U,.S. Air Corps and the U.S. Navy, had landed just outside the hanger door. Mr. Young explained that the craft was most popular because, unlike other trainers in their care, it had an enclosed canopy allowing it to be flown in inclimate weather.

Outside and adjacent to the landing strip, Bob pointed to four other aircraft explaining their origins and their condition, some restored, others awaiting restoration. As we enterd the last of the hangers we were most impressed with the vastness of the space it encompassed. This one, not even crowded by the over thirty tables elaborately set for a five thirty wedding party that afternoon. (The enormous hanger is the largest party venue in the area) Here we were further treated to displays of military aircraft. We were drawn to two planes. One, a McDonnell F-4B Phantom 11, a U.S. Navy/Air Force fighter owned by the U.S. Air Force, and the other, a Mikoyan-Gurevi MiG-17, a Polish Air force Fighter owned by Jon Blanchette, a former high school classmate of the writer.

Of course there were many more planes, scores of photographs plus dozens of showcases displaying memorabilia associated with the world of flight, both historic and recent. We thank Martha and Bill Treichler for arranging this most rewarding experience. The Wings of Eagles Museum is a great place to visit, well worth the time to get there and perhaps to even learn to FLY!

© 2007, Donovan A. Shilling
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