Midway Museum gets a major new addition
USS MIDWAY MUSEUM – The former naval aviators and sailors who make up much of the staff and huge volunteer corps of the Midway Museum don't get excited by much – but they were excited about this.
The arrival on two flatbed semis of a famous WWII aircraft – the Grumman F4F Wildcat.
Until today, the museum's collection of some 30 planes did not include the fighter, which was a big part of the US victory over the Japanese in the pivotal Battle of Midway, after which the USS Midway – and now Midway Museum – was named.
After three years of restoration at a hanger the museum leases at north island, the light and nimble fighter was hoisted aboard.
89-year-old Midway docent Glenn Tierney told me it was like meeting an old friend. “This was my first serious aircraft coming out of flight training,” he says. “It actually saved the bacon at the Battle of Midway, protecting the dive bombers who sank the Japanese carriers the same carriers at Pearl Harbor by the way.”
How the Wildcat came to the museum is a story in itself.
In the early 90's the plane was found at the bottom of Lake Michigan. It had gone into the drink during pilot-carrier training in the 40's.
The lake's cold fresh water, and lack of oxygen at the bottom, helped preserve it.
It was sitting at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, waiting to be restored, when it was decided its new home should be at the Midway museum. it will be a major piece of their planned Battle of Midway 3D holographic theatre.
“That's one thing we always wanted to have from the time we first got the Midway 10 years ago,” says Karl Zingheim, one of the museum's historians, “but we had other things we have to take care of and its just as well – the delay because the advances in cinematic technology has advanced considerably in the decade.”
Wildcat, you needed a good home, and you have found one – in San Diego.