Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and welcome to our annual open hangar party. Once again we can report great progress at the Massey Aerodrome, your favorite Airfield of dreams.
Many of you could not make it to last years party due to the cold and nasty weather. Lee Blazjewski was the only fly-in with his open cockpit autogyro. He was a little on the blue side when he got here. There were still about 200 hardy souls that came and had a great time. The B-17 story on the next page was the highlight.
Some of the other highlights follow:
Because the airport is licensed for public use we are eligible for some financial assistance from the State of Maryland for certain types of capital improvements. First, in order to qualify we needed to get a portion of the airport exempted from local property taxes. We applied to the County Commissioners and they granted the tax exemption for the runway and taxi areas. That reduced our real-estate taxes by almost $400. More importantly it made us eligible for the State grant program.
The Maryland Aviation Administration people had suggested we should consider re-paving the public access areas of the driveway and aircraft apron. We drew up a request for bids and got four good proposals. We submitted a request for financial assistance in the amount of $24,000 to the State Department of Transportation and they granted it. We had hoped to have it done before the open hangar party but just learned the contractor will not be able to get it done this season. They promised we would be one of their first projects next year. That will be a great improvement.
The third 48' overhead door is now installed on the East hanger. We can now get a lot more planes in and out of that hanger with ease.
The flying activities are another good story. Our first Chili-Fiesta-Fly-In was a major success. About 60 planes flew in including three trikes that came all the way from Cape May N.J. The chili was great and the donation jar was overflowed with $600. A lot of people had a great time. We will do it again next spring.
$600 was a record for us. It enabled us to finish the application process with the IRS for our 501(c)3 status and to have the first printing of a brochure for recruiting museum members.
The brochure is fabulous. A new friend Libby Woolover took my very amateur attempt (which took weeks of effort) at brochure making and in her spare time turned it into a very professional work of art. I know when you see it you will be compelled to sign up for museum membership on the spot. Libby does this work professionally and has her own shop at home.
The Young Eagles Day in August was fabulous. There were 85 kids who got free plane rides thanks to the generosity of the volunteer pilots. They provided the planes and flew the kids. Over 200 kids have gotten free rides here at the aerodrome since we started. This year we saw a lot of local and not so local families bring their kids. It is good to see our circle of friends expanding.
We did a little glider flying and tried to host a "glider weekend". The weather did not cooperate. It was far too windy so we had a lot of leftover hot dogs.
We haven't given up on the glider thing. There are a number of people who have expressed an interest in going for their glider ratings. We have arranged with Dan O'Donnell to bring his two place Schweizer here and use his 150 Horsepower Cessna 150 for the tow plane.
We expect to have a lot of glider activity here next year and arranged with the State Aviation Administration to have that information added to the facilities directory.
We had a lot of visitors this past year, there were 264 entries in the guest register, most covered two people many represented entire families.
The restoration shop was active with work on the 1939 Cub wings, an Acroduster nose bowl, a Slipstream engine change, a Schweizer 1-26 refurbishment, and the final assembly of Bill Malpass' new Super Drifter. You should check that one out it is a real black beauty. There has also been a lot of progress on Jamie G' Aeronca Chief and the Cessna 150-150 conversion is about to get restarted. Larry Tasker is building a two place Kolb.
We have reserved the web address www.masseyaero.org.
Now we need someone to pull together a web site. Any volunteers?
About the B-17: a couple of years ago I heard about a giant scale model B-17 that had been built by a local world famous decoy carver named Charlie Joiner. He made the model to honor his life-long friend David Bramble who flew a B-17 named The Village Flirt for 25 missions in World War II. Charlie was looking for a place to put the model where it would have the right kind of exposure. I of course felt the Massey Air Museum would be the very best place and talked to him about it.
He liked the idea of putting it in a museum but had a problem putting it in Massey. You see, David Bramble, after the war became a very successful road-paving contractor. His company wanted to build a new state of the art blacktop plant on some property in Massey. A few neighbors objected, Bramble won in court but some hard feelings remained.
Time passed, the plant was built and the hard feelings are now gone. Charlie spoke to me about putting it on display for the Christmas party. I of course jumped at the opportunity. He and his wife brought the plane to the aerodrome and we hung it from the overhead hoist with a spotlight to light it. It looked great there along side the giant scale WW II Waco glider.
The real thrill came when Charlie and his wife showed up at the party with David Bramble and his wife. David Bramble was even wearing his WW II garrison aviator hat and trench coat. They sat below the model and conversed with the crowd for a couple hours. They received a great deal of admiration from the group and a lot of people got a greater understanding of a bygone era of aviation, duty and honor.
The sad news is that Mr. Bramble died a few short months after his visit here. We feel lucky we had the opportunity to be a part of giving honors to him and all the WW II vets that served with him.
We are hopeful the Massey Aerodrome will become the permanent home for the B-17 Village Flirt.
It should be noted it was his grandson Pete that came up with the best solution for our paving project and a most favorable price. We are thankful.
Jim Douglass Dec.'04