High flying history

By Christine Bryant
Staff Writer

About 15 minutes down U.S. 33 from Canal Winchester and Pickerington is a hangar where

Photo courtesy of the Historical Aircraft Squadron
Pictured here is a 4/5 scale British World War I era biplane.

vintage aircraft come to life.

It’s a treasure trove of historical war relics, including planes that were considered advanced for their eras.

For Don Bell and many of the volunteer members of the Historical Aircraft Squadron, it’s a haven for preserving history by restoring several of the aircraft featured in the organization’s museum.

Bell, who serves as the museum’s curator, says although the non-profit organization formed in the early 1990s, it wasn’t until 2000 when a hangar constructed at the Fairfield County Airport began housing the restoration work. The museum also displays hundreds of artifacts from past wars, including uniforms, vehicles, artwork and books.

“We have on display nine aircraft, two of which belong to two of our members,” Bell said. “Both of these planes are World War II and they both fly.”

Aircraft range from a 1939 Culver Cadet to a Rutan Long-EZ built by Hamilton Township High School students.

“We also have a jet fighter built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and was used in the war with Pakistan,” Bell said.

Most operation funds for the organization come from membership dues and donations in many forms, he said. Currently, volunteers are restoring a ⅘ scale World War I British S.E.5, which Bell says should fly soon.

“We have two more of these and we will begin restoration soon,” he said. “When that is done and all are flying, we will be able to do flyovers for local events.”

All restoration work at the museum is done by volunteer members, some who are licensed aircraft mechanics.

“They can handle anything,” Bell said.

In addition to aircraft, the organization also has a 1942 staff car, a Kaiser Jeep Vietnam-era ambulance and a Kaiser 1972 2-½ ton truck.

“We also have 20 showcases and a large library,” Bell said. “One of our interesting displays is a complete Norden bombsight, which was secret during World War II.”

Though the interest in historical aircraft and artifacts is big among members, the actual membership is only at about 50. Bell says there are several ways community members who have an interest in preserving history can help, however.

“You do not have to be an aircraft mechanic, as there are many things that we do that require assistance,” he said.

The organization also heavily relies on donations.

“We have very little money to buy museum items, so almost all things on display have been donated,” Bell said. “These include things have found in the attic or something that grandpa left in a foot locker.”

The HAS Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Admission is free. Tours of the museum, located in Hanger B at the Fairfield County Airport, 3266 Old Columbus Road, Carroll, also are available.

The group also will hold its annual World War II USO Style Hangar Dance at 7 p.m. Sept. 8. The event will feature Z Sharp, which performs big band music from the World War II era, as well as door prizes, hors d’oeuvres and a 1940s costume contest. Cost is $25 per person.

For more information on this event or the organization, go to historicalaircraftsquadron.com.

Historical Society meeting

The Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society will meet at the Historical Aircraft Squadron Museum at 7 p.m. on June 7.

As part of the meeting, the group will tour the squadron’s hangar and museum, where restoration of former military aircraft and related equipment takes place. This event is open to the public, and dessert and beverages will be available after the tour.

The Historical Aircraft Squadron is located on the grounds of the Fairfield County Airport, 3266 Old Columbus Road, Carroll.

For information, go to pickhistory.org.

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