LEXINGTON, Ky. – At a recent ceremony at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport , TAC Air, the city's only Fixed Base Operator, celebrated the opening of its new luxury terminal. TAC Air's neighbor, the Aviation Museum of Kentucky, also did some celebrating, thanks to a $50,000 check. Dr. Ray Garman is the museum's chairman of the board:
"Fifty thousand dollars of cash money is a great asset for us because we actually run barely on a break-even basis."
The Museum stays open with the help of a volunteer staff and donated exhibits. It started out as an Aviation History Roundtable in the late night 1970's. Airplane buffs in the central Kentucky area met quarterly and invited public speakers. By 1995, the round-table had transformed into a full-fledged museum.
"We have about 40 planes if you count all of them, not all of which are on display at one time. There will be more displayed over there," says Garman.
Over there, is the space being vacated by TAC Air and Mustang Aviation. Two hangars only about a hundred yards away from the current museum, will provide some much needed room for expansion.
"It's going to more than double our size of the museum," says Jack Baugh, one of the founders of the Aviation Museum. "We are the official aviation museum of Kentucky and the official aviation hall of fame of Kentucky by virtue of the General Assembly's proclamation and resolution."
At age 12, a pilot just back from World War Two taught Baugh to fly a glider, and he's been hooked on flying ever since. Baugh takes prides in all the exhibits at the museum, which must have some historical significance to aviation in Kentucky to earn a spot.
Its location at Bluegrass Airport gives the aviation museum great exposure, and is also convenient when bringing in exhibits, many of which can still fly. Baugh says the museum board already has its eye on other planes, once the move to the larger space is complete.
"We want to get a World War I fighter, and we want to get an F-86, which was a Korean era plane. We've got Vietnam and some of the World War II guys that come in and out of here, but we need some here permanently."
Baugh says the museum's mission is to preserve the history of aviation in Kentucky and also to educate young people about possible careers and other opportunities in aviation.
Work is underway building new lights and additional heating in the larger aviation museum facility. The museum also hopes to eventually have a brand new space estimated at 10 million dollars.