History Takes Flight
It's a place in North Central Florida where history not only comes to life, but takes flight! The Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum in Keystone Heights is honoring the past, while working toward a vision that's out of this world.
Co-Founder and Executive Director Captain Bob Oehl said, "You're gonna get a full-on tactical demonstration of how the 14J was used in World War II."
This plane, called an l4J or "Grasshopper" helped win World War II because they were the eyes in the sky for the troops on the ground. This plane is one of only 31 in the world of it's kind and one of only two in the world that ordinary people can actually fly in.
Oehl said, "It's an aggressive flying display of how this airplane was used as a light attack airplane, as liaison airplane." Oehl served two tours in Vietnam in the Air Force and has a long family history of flight. He helped start the Wings of Dreams Aviation Museum to share aviation history with the community in a hands on way. He said, "Unlike other places where you go see aircraft and vehicles and memorabilia, we actually operate them and we take you with them."
The museum has a collection of artifacts and aircraft from World Wars I & II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. And features a Women Air Force Service Pilots, or WASP, display. They've also recently secured 41 NASA artifacts.
Oehl said, "The big news is the guidance and navigation simulator, the space shuttle simulator that is scheduled to be here after the last mission flies." Oehl said the simulator will help promote aerospace education for people of all ages.
But the problem is they need more space and money to accommodate the machine and the rest of their growing collection. This opportunity to develop more historic tourism has gotten the attention of the city council. Keystone Heights City Councilman Gavin Rollins said, "There's a lot of potential, amazing potential...aviation can open amazing doors for economic development."
The council is discussing options to help make sure the museum is preserved. But in a small town of only 1500 residents, Wings of Dreams will be relying mainly on donations and volunteerism within the community.
Oehl said, "A lot of the memorabilia we have here is irreplaceable and has to be protected."
And protecting the memory of those who've served this country through aviation, while forging ahead to the future is what Wings of Dreams is trying to do.
For more information on Wings of Dreams visit http://www.wingsofdreams.org/.
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