|(Copyright 2004 by the Chicago Tribune)
Special section. Community Focus: Northbrook /
A museum that opened recently in The Glen aims to tell
the story of the Glenview Naval Air Station that once occupied the
The most important part of that story is the role the air
station played during World War II, said Bobby Ferguson, museum committee
The station was the training ground for more than 15,000
pilots during the war, Ferguson said. Pilots--among them former President
George Bush--went to the base to become certified to take off and land
from aircraft carriers. (Photocopies of Bush's flight log and orders are
The Naval Air Station Glenview Museum, at 1951 Tower
Drive, opened June 19 in a 3,000-square-foot temporary space in the Glen
Town Center provided by developer Oliver McMillan.
The foundation hopes to break ground on a permanent site
in The Glen in the next four years, said Frank Mack, president of the
Hangar One Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to
recognizing the service of those who were stationed at the Glenview
Glenview's role as a major center for Navy pilots came
after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the losses to the Navy fleet, all
of its carriers were in service on the front lines, Ferguson said. To
train pilots, the Navy converted two passenger steamships on Lake Michigan
so they had the same kind of flat tops as aircraft carriers.
Pilots usually would stay in Glenview for three days to
receive classroom instruction and practice takeoffs and landings on the
base before flying out to Lake Michigan for training on the converted
ships. Pilots had to have eight successful landings and takeoffs on the
steamships for certification, Ferguson said.
A 6-foot-4 scale model of one of those ships, the USS
Sable, is on display at the museum. The model is on loan from the Great
Lakes Naval Museum until sometime in September.
Curator Beverly Dawson said she plans to rotate exhibits
at the Glenview museum about every three to four months. The museum has
about 500 items in its permanent collection and at least 150 on loan, she
said. Those numbers are growing quickly, she said.
"I get e-mails just about every day saying, I have this
or that, would you be interested?" said Dawson, who also is president of
the Glenview Area Historical Society.
Nearby businesses have helped, too, pitching in with such
items as mannequins to display uniforms and use of their photocopiers,
Other museum items include old photographs, uniforms and
models of planes that flew out of the base. The foundation is working with
a model club to obtain more planes with Glenview markings. Seven of the
roughly 45 aircraft on display have Glenview markings, Dawson said.
One especially large item in the museum's collection is
the engine of a U.S. Navy Avenger airplane that took off from Glenview and
crashed into Lake Michigan in the early 1940s. The plane was lifted from
the waters in the early 1990s, Ferguson said.
"It's not in the museum because it weighs 2,000 pounds or
something like that," he said. "It's a huge thing, and we can't get it
through the door."
For now the museum will display the engine outside its
doors on occasion.
Ferguson's favorite piece in the museum is a more
personal one: a photograph of Glenview resident A.C. "Ace" Realie,
immediate past president of the Hangar One Foundation. Realie, a retired
colonel, served in Korea as a marine fighter pilot and was stationed at
the Glenview Naval Air Station as a reservist. The picture depicts Realie
as a young man stepping into an airplane.
"He sort of symbolizes many, many people of that era who
donned the cloth of their country and went off to war," Ferguson said.
Members of the Hangar One Foundation were instrumental in
getting part of the control tower preserved at The Glen. The tower sits
down the street from the museum, as does Navy Park, another foundation
The park features three 6-foot bronze statues--a
"yellow-shirt" who guides planes, a flight crew member and a sailor. The
statues are replicas of ones at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in
Pensacola, Fla. The foundation has been selling memorial bricks for $100
each to help pay for the park. The bricks are being used to pave a walkway
in the park.
The foundation has repaid about half of the $54,000 loan
it received from the village and expects to repay the rest soon; it also
has given the park to the village.
The foundation's next challenge is to find a permanent
space for the museum and for a center for studying space science.
The foundation has a license from the Challenger Center
for Space Science Education in Alexandria, Va., to develop the center,
which would be used by students and teachers. It would have a computerized
simulator with a mission control room and a model space station. The
estimated cost of the center would be $10 million to $20 million, Mack
Ferguson hopes the new museum will be a springboard for
making the Challenger Center a reality.
"A lot of people thought we'd never, ever, ever pull off
this museum," Ferguson said.
Perhaps now people will support the foundation's goal of
finding a permanent home for the museum and Challenger Learning Center, he
- - -
Naval museum details
Address: 1951 Tower Drive, Glenview.
Web site: www.hangarone.org.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, or by appointment for group tours.
Run by: Hangar One Foundation, P.O. Box 198, Glenview, IL
Wish list: The museum is seeking donations related to the
Glenview Naval Air Station, including memorabilia involving civilian
employees, intelligence units, army aviation and primary flight
Dream items: "I have very little that's related to the
women in service," said Beverly Dawson, museum curator. "It's a story that
hasn't had a lot of attention."
|PHOTOS 2; Caption: PHOTO (color): Retired combat
photographer Ted Koston of Melrose Park talks with Beverly Dawson,
curator of the Naval Air Station Glenview Museum, during the June
opening in its temporary space in Glen Town Center. Tribune photo by
John Dziekan. PHOTO (color): Among the items in the collection at
the Naval Air Station Glenview Museum is a model of a plane that was
flown at the former base. The museum's temporary quarters in The
Glen opened in June. Tribune photo by John Dziekan. (Northbrook /
Glenview special section, Page 1.)|