Curator Pete Haggland found this photo featuring some sunny summer flying in the Alaska Range. It dates from July, 1999.
Morris Cheatwood is one of our awesome volunteers. He brings his aviation maintenance expertise into the museum with him every time he comes in to the Gold Dome. We are lucky to have him as part of our crew. Thanks Morris!
Morris is 32 years old, and moved to Fairbanks from Tulsa, OK in 2017 for a job opportunity in military aviation maintenance. He worked on the Eielson AFB F-16 fleet as a civilian contractor after serving in the USAF as a B-52 bomber electrician in Bossier City, Louisiana.
How did you get interested in the museum?
I recall my first visit to the museum was in the fall of 2017. I discovered it by chance after eating at the Salmon Bake for the first time. I was brand new to the Fairbanks area and wanted to explore around during my time off work. It was close to closing time when I had entered so I made a quick loop and decided I absolutely had to come back.
What kind of volunteer work do you do here at the museum?
I have helped with a wide array of activities from helping rearrange and store museum photographs and displays, cleaning, patching small holes in the museum flooring, to working on a couple of the aircraft featured at the museum.
What kind of challenges has that work presented?
Working on the older aircraft has presented several challenges. Having limited resources as far as blueprints and maintenance data makes for an interesting time more often than not. Trying to reassemble an aircraft without the original books has been like solving a puzzle.
What do you enjoy most about volunteering?
I have volunteered my time with various clubs and organizations from a young age. From being an assistant youth wrestling coach after high school and throughout college, to working with different chapters of the VFW between Shreveport LA and Tulsa, OK. I mostly enjoy the opportunity to network with other people with similar interests. There is always something new to learn and volunteering presents a great opportunity to do just that while meeting new people.
Do you have a favorite object here in the museum? What about it appeals to you?
Having seen all of the exhibits and displays within the museum, I can’t really say that I have a particular favorite. However, the museum building itself is really interesting. It’s a geodesic dome that has been packed full of Alaskan military and civil aviation history. I was surprised to see how many aircraft and displays have been organized and displayed within the building. The layout is thoughtful, allowing visitors to walk a loop while exploring the various exhibits, displays, and aircraft. If you have not been through, you really ought to check it out!
If you'd like to learn more about volunteering at Pioneer Air Museum, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
This blog post comes to you from Steve Lundeen, one of our dedicated volunteers and board members. Steve visited this museum several years back and reflects on his visit in this post.
Through my reads of aviation journals and magazines I’d been picking up tidbits of information about an aviation museum I didn’t know existed. Reportedly this facility has a very notable collection of WWII fighters along with many other fine aircraft, all restored to flyable condition. I had read the museum was the vision of the Fagen family who had ancestors that served during WWII. Located in the heartland of Minnesota about 130 miles due west of the Minneapolis airport it served as a convenient escape when visiting family in the region.
Upon entering the museum I was greeted by a restored WWI fighter JN-4 Jenny, and a background of other beautifully restored aircraft highlighted by a B25, its bright polished aluminum skin shining in the background.
Wandering around the museum, you see P-51D Mustangs, P-40’s, FM-2 Wildcat to name just a few of the spotless, restored to detail airplanes that grace the museum’s floors. Hanging in the museum they even have a fully restored Messeerschmitt BF-109 WWII German fighter.
Two years after my visit to this museum I realize it wasn’t just these great, popular aircraft that I recall, think and talk about the most, but some of the other displays they had. I found that the CG-4A Transport Glider something I still talk about the most from all my museum visits. This glider is only partially skinned to allow for observation of its construction and load carrying capabilities. These gliders, pulled by C-47 (DC-3) aircraft were used extensively during the Normandy Invasion. While these gliders were built in numerous factories some were built in Minnesota, making them the only WWII aircraft built in that state.
Sitting next to the glider is a Clark Airborne Bulldozer CA-1 which some of the gliders would carry, while others carried jeeps, weapons and troops.
The museum also has created a life scene of Utah Beach during D-day including a landing craft, and bronze soldier statues hitting the beach, with actual sand from the location.
As I wandered back to my car and drove down the road my mind wondered, as it still does today about those pilots and troops climbing into these wooden gliders and flying in mass, pulled by C-47’s across the English Channel that day. How did those C-47’s even get these gliders off the ground weighing 7500 lbs? Just what was going through that pilots mind as he was on final to an unprepared field with a bulldozer behind him?
This museum is a wonderful tribute to the greatest generation and their accomplishments during the dark years of WWII. The visionaries of the museum did a wonderful of job of sending me down the road thinking about my own relatives, one of which flew DC-3’s during D-Day and another that came across the beaches of France.
I rate this museum as a must see for any aviation buff anywhere near the region.
Personal museum visit
Museum's website: fagenfighterswwiimuseum.org
For more information on the museum, visit:
Note: The Fagen Fighters Museum page shows that they are currently (as of 9/10/20) closed due to Coronavirus risk. Make sure you check current opening hours of this and any museum before planning your visit.
In the interest of protecting the health of our museum staff, volunteers and visitors, the board of the IAAAF/ Pioneer Air Museum has made the decision to keep the museum closed to the public through at least September 15, 2020. The board will continue to monitor the situation and will evaluate reopening plans for winter as the COVID situation evolves.
We appreciate your understanding as we navigate this uncharted terrain and are looking forward to greeting guests as soon as is safe to do so. In the meantime, our staff and volunteers continue to work on developing exhibits, improving the visitor experience, and many other behind the scenes tasks.
We are grateful for your continued support and thank you for doing your part to stop the spread of COVID-19.
This blog post is by Rita Butteri, our collections manager.
The mission of the Pioneer Air Museum (PAM) is to collect, protect, and preserve for educational purposes, objects that reflect the history of interior and arctic Alaskan aviation through acquiring, restoring, interpreting, and displaying historically significant objects. It can’t be done without record keeping which is the job of a Collections Manager.
What is the process of record keeping? Read on:
CATALOGING A DONATED OBJECT:
OBJECT: Quartz table watch from Wien Air Alaska
This item was donated a long time ago and with no DONOR’S FORM. If no donor’s form exists we call it “Found In Collection” (FIC).
1. An Accession number is assigned to the object. For this object the Accession number is 2020.FIC (2020 for year the object was found in the collection) FIC indicates the that it was Found In Collection and the donor is unknown.
2. An Object number follows the Accession number. For our object it is the thirty-second item to be cataloged. This makes a final Object ID number that looks like 2020.FIC.032
3. Detailed photographs of the object are taken including damaged areas.
4. Collection Managers of the Pioneer Air Museum have been cataloging the collections since 2012 using PastPerfect Museum Software. Following the systems templates we enter a meticulous description of the items which includes condition, measurements just to mention a few. If available we enter the donor’s information, history, value in which case we dedicate the object to a specific Collection. Finally we upload the picture to the record, assign a specific location to where the object is stored or displayed so anybody who has access to the database can locate the object at any time.
5. If appropriate the object is cleaned up following museum collection cleaning guidelines, tagged and carefully transported to its assigned location.
A similar process is done with Archival material, photos and books. To catalog an object like the Quartz table watch can take 15 to 30 minutes. On the other hand, take one of the aircrafts displayed at the Pioneer Air Museum. Cataloging that can stretch over days and weeks. The museum currently houses and cares for approximately 4,500 historic objects. The collection includes 14 aircraft, more than 20 aircraft engines and the number is rising as we catalog more items.
If you consider donating items please contact the Pioneer Air Museum’s collections manager so we can determine if the item complies with the Pioneer Air Museum’s collections Policy.
We were saddened to hear today of the passing of long time friend of the museum and aviation supporter, Marty Hall. Marty had a long career in aviation and he will be missed. We offer our condolences to his family and friends.
We hope to hold some sort of gathering to honor Marty and others who have recently flown west when the museum re-opens.
t's no secret that Alaska has a high number of private pilots and home built runways and airstrips. Pioneer Air Museum wants to feature this do-it-yourself Alaskan spirit in our new exhibit on Fairbanks area airports and airfields. We hope to illustrate the wide range of airfields - military, public and private - and their importance to our local community. Your back yard runway could be featured in our museum, alongside fields like Weeks Field, Fairbanks International, Ladd Field, Eielson and more.
But we need your help to do it! If you've got a runway in your yard that you want to show off, we want to see it! We may feature your photos in our exhibit, on our website/blog or on social media.
We want to know things like:
Want to help? Drop us a comment, send it to us via Facebook messenger or email it to us at email@example.com .
Thanks for your continued support of Alaska aviation history and Pioneer Air Museum!
We were saddened to learn today of the passing of legendary Alaskan pilot Holger "Jorgy" Jorgensen on April 4, 2020. Jorgensen was born in 1927 in Western Alaska to an Inupiaq mother and Norwegian father. He grew up living a subsistence lifestyle, served in the Alaska Territorial Guard during World War II, before eventually becoming a commercial pilot, where he spent a long career flying above the Great Land as an airline captain. He fortunately told his life story to author Jean Lester - his life's experiences, challenges and successes are chronicled in Jorgy, published by Ester Republic Press in 2007.
Pioneer Air Museum curator Pete Haggland has known Holger Jorgensen since the 1950s. Pete recalls Jorgensen as being a wonderful person, a mentor, a fine colleague and excellent pilot. According to Pete, Jorgensen often served as a mentor to other aviators learning the ropes of flying in Alaska; he remembers Jorgy as the sort of pilot that you never had to worry about as he made good decisions in the cockpit. Pete recalls that Jorgensen flew for Wien, Northern Air Cargo, Great Northern, among others.
Holger's passing is a terrible loss to the aviation community and to the whole state, Pete says.
The museum hopes to further honor Jorgensen's life and career upon reopening after the threat of the coronavirus passes.
Our condolences to the family.
To learn more about this legendary Alaskan's life, we suggest:
Jorgy: The Life of Native Alaskan Bush Pilot and Airline Captain Holger "Jorgy" Jorgensen, as told to Jean Lester (print and digital editions available)
Anchorage Daily News: Legends in Alaska Aviation - Holger Jorgensen (Published October 7, 2012).
image via: http://jorgyjorgensen.blogspot.com
Due to the public health risk posed by the novel Coronavirus/COVID-19, the Pioneer Air Museum will be closed until further notice. We continue to evaluate the developing situation. We hope to be able to welcome visitors again soon.
We appreciate your understanding of these necessary steps to mitigate the spread of this virus. Thank you for your ongoing support of the Pioneer Air Museum.
Pioneer Air Museum
Thanks to all the friends and members of the museum for joining us at our museum Christmas Party on December 18th. We enjoyed the opportunity to see old friends and make new acquaintances. Curator Pete Haggland showed us that not only can he fly a plane and run a museum, he also cooks and carves delicious ham and turkey. Thank you to everyone who brought delicious potluck dishes to share. We all went home with hearts and bellies full!
From the museum board and staff, we want to thank you, our friends and volunteers, for your help in making another wonderful year of preserving Alaska's aviation history possible. We are so grateful for your support and time in carrying out our museum's mission.
We wish you a very wonderful holiday season, and a safe and happy new year.
This blog and website is maintained by museum volunteers and staff.