Liberty Aviation Museum Director Jeff Sondles addressing a tour group from the Catawba Island Club on Saturday.
The Liberty Aviation Museum, adjacent to the Erie-Ottawa International Airport in Port Clinton, opened in July of 2012. A year and a half later, the museum is already undergoing a major expansion.
The hangar being constructed behind the existing buildings will house the Ford Tri-Motor restoration project and visiting historical aircraft, and will be the winter exhibit area for the Museum’s fully restored PT boat. This will allow more space in the existing part of the Museum for new exhibits and various events. Two historical organizations have recently contacted the Museum about being the permanent home for their collections.
Miss America II was visiting The Liberty Aviation Museum on Monday. She is pictured here in front of the new hangar construction. Photo by Dave Bishop.
As the Museum continues to expand, there is a commensurate increase in the need for volunteers for a variety of positions. “Nothing is stronger than the heart of a volunteer,” is the quote from World War II General Jimmy Doolittle that Museum Director Jeff Sondles has found to be an inspiration. “Volunteers helped make the Museum’s first year a success. As we develop as a regional tourist attraction and as an educational and economic enrichment resource for Ottawa County, we encourage members of the community to join us to continue building a dynamic museum,” said Sondles.
Dynamic can also be used to describe the Museum because in addition to its displays of static exhibits, it features exhibits that move. The award-winning B-25 Mitchell bomber Georgie’s Gal and the Navy TBM Avenger torpedo bomber travel to air shows and other events. The PT boat Thomcat is scheduled to be on the water this summer. A restored B-17 and a Ford Tri-Motor will visit this year and offer rides.
“We welcome as a volunteer or intern anyone who is interested in learning, educating, and contributing to our living history,” said Sondles.
Some of the volunteer positions available are:
• Display and exhibit craftsmen--to help build display cases, maintain the displays and exhibits that tell the stories of the Museum’s unique items.
• An oral history project coordinator--to interview local veterans and veterans who come to the museum and record their stories for future generations. The recordings will be transcribed and catalogued into the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress in Washington.
• Special events volunteers--to assist with event planning, promotion and preparation for the major fundraising events held at the Museum each year.
• Development and fundraising volunteers--to assist with fundraising and bringing unique exhibitions, programs and community events to the Museum.
• Docents (guides)--to interact with guests and lead tour groups, sharing information about the museum’s living history.
• An education coordinator--to develop outreach, field trips, and in-house programs for school children and teachers.
• A museum outreach educator, to take the Museum’s experience into the Northern Ohio community’s classrooms, libraries and other public venues, using power point presentations and structured lesson plans.
Photo: Spotter Model exhibit at the Museum
In several display cases in The Liberty Aviation Museum are historical aircraft models in plastic or wood. The military used such models to train civilian spotters to differentiate aircraft. The Museum is working on expanding their collection of these historical model airplanes, and would like to ask for help in adding to the collection. The models can often be found for a few dollars at garage sales, flea markets and antique stores. Those who find or have one to donate are encouraged to call or stop in at the Museum.