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Dream Drives: Historic Aircraft At Air Victory Museum

Author: Meisha Johnson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Air Victory Museum, housed in a real hanger at the South Jersey Regional Airport in Burlington County, has been home to a collection of aircraft and flight memorabilia since 1989.

Bob McGonigle showed Meisha Johnson the collection of aircraft, models, engines, and more.

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“Hangers are generally ambient temperature,” Bob said, “so if you want heat, you come in summer. You want cool, you come in winter!”

Volunteers help keep the old displays in shape. Frank Cerullo is one of the restoration mechanics, so to speak. “All these aircraft are non-flightworthy, so we just keep them and maintain them for the public,” Frank said.

The volunteers are fixing up a T-34, an old Navy training plane, and hope to have it ready by spring.

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“This came from Willow Grove,” Frank said. “Right now we’re painting the wings, and we will put it back together.”

Also on display is an F-14 that flew in Vietnam.

“My father fought in Vietnam,” Meisha said, “so every time I hear about it, it always resurrects so much emotion.”

“He would have seen more of these, the F-4, which is also a very large aircraft,” Bob said as he pointed to an F-4A Phantom.

Smaller aircraft hang from the ceiling. Some are drones. Some are models. One is a replica of the Wright brothers’ first plane.

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“That was built by (a) high school science class,” Frank said. “That’s exactly the size the Wright brothers’ airplane was.”

The museum volunteers are building a full-scale model of a Messerschmitt 109, a German WWII fighter aircraft.

“Because we could never afford the real one,” Bob said. “We’d be in millions of dollars, and we have a very small budget.”

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Here, people are invited to touch the displays. “We display our engines outside of the aircraft so kids can get an idea what pushed them, what moved them around,” Bob said.

“One thing I think is so cool about this museum is, you can come in, you can actually get up close and personal, and you can touch things,” Meisha said.

“You can feel it that it’s real,” Bob said.

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“You know what? They always tell me, ‘Meisha, stop touching things in museums!’ and look at me. I’m touching and I’m allowed!”

The Air Victory Museum is at 68 Stacy Haines Road, Lumberton, NJ 08048. It is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (April through October 2018, it will also be open on Sundays from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

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