Last week I went to Lakeland, FL. for another Florida Attractions Association board meeting. It was held at the Florida Air Museum. The meeting went well and was shortened somewhat when our hosts informed us there would be airplane rides when we got done. But this was not any ordinary old airplane. This was a ride in a beautifully restored 1941 Stearman Trainer. This is the same plane that our dads trained in as cadets in WWII. Unfortunately I had to take a raincheck when they ran out of time, but just to see it in the air and hear that engine gave me the shivers. Most were built in 1940 by Boeing’s Stearman division in Witchita, KS. Boeing built 8,584 of the biplanes for the military.
Visiting the museum there was yet more confirmation of the importance of historic preservation. I stood next to the ball turret of a B-17 and couldn’t believe guys sat in that tiny place for hours at a time on bombing missions.
Boeing B-17 Ball Turret
Next was an experimental vertical liftoff craft from the 1950’s
Lockheed XFV-1 “Salmon” Vertical Riser
These are some more highlights from among hundreds of planes.
We just put new roofs on our WWII Coast Guard Barracks and Garage. The old metal roof was taken off of the barracks and replaced with a shake shingle roof like the one originally there.
Coast Guard Barracks 1942
New roof going on the barracks
The garage was next, but when we got down to the original roofing materials we found not shake shingles but green asphalt. Could this be historic? I went back to the photo archives and, low and behold, there were the asphalt shingles. It turns out that the garage was built in 1936, five years prior to the barracks.
Archival picture of the garage
Final touches being added to new roof
Asphalt shingles were produced in this country as early as the late 20’s but did not contain the fiberglass reinforcement they have today. Although the shakes would have had better eye appeal, our mission is historic preservation and so the asphalt shingles were ordered.
Historic Preservation is vital to our nation’s history. Our children need to know where we’ve been and it is always best to be able to touch and see it. With all the things we do with our time and money, why not investigate what historic sites are in your area, pay the admission fee to help support their efforts (or better yet, become a member), and get out this weekend and experience your history. And if you happen to be in St. Augustine, we’ve got a great lighthouse that is just waiting for you to climb.
View from the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse looking southeast