(WDEF) Pilot Peter O'Hare summed up the Hixson Flight Museum's presence at this year's Riverbend. He said, "It's a great opportunity to actually put you hands on history."
The Hixson Flight Museum aims to do just that. Festival-goers can actually climb into the cockpit of this T28 Warbird. It's usually housed in Hixson, but all this week it's under the Olgiatti Bridge. O'Hare added, "They actually towed the aircraft. I think we got in to Ripely's Believe it or Not because we towed the furthest aircraft that has a registration on it over public streets."
For those who want to help sponsor this effort, a Riverbend flyover in a Vietnam-era plane. O'Hare explained, "At about 8:00pm is usually when one of the acts breaks off or comes in so it's a great opportunity for us to be able to bring to the community the thrill of flying. You get the chance to see an old Warbirds in the air."
These planes are the genuine article. O'Hare added, "Both of them served in combat. Both of them served in Vietnam. The T-28 Alpha actually served in the '100-hour war.' In 1969 it was sold for a dollar by the U-S Navy where it went to Honduras and is credited with taking out an El Salvadorian P-51 over Honduras."
The T28 was completely rebuilt from almost 1400 parts. And it was rebuilt here in Hixson. Not at Dobbins Air Force Base in Atlanta or the Tennessee Museum of Aviation in Sevierville.
O'Hare explained, "No one really in the Chattanooga area really had the opportunity to work on Warbirds. And even if you did go to those two locations, chances are you wouldn't get an opportunity to climb on them and turn a wrench. This is what this area has needed for a long time. This community is great around aviation and love to work on the aircraft and love to fly the airplanes and love the challenge of it, and now we have it in our own backyard."
Authenticity is the name of the game. Not only for the planes, but also for the gear inside them. Eddie Stanfield of the Hixson Flight Museum showed us the parachutes kept at the Museum. He said, "This is what they wear for flight shows, or air shows. And basically was worn pretty much through Vietnam and Korea and stuff like that."
The best thing about the Hixson Flight Museum is everything is actually flight-ready. Not only can you come take a look at the planes, but they're still ready to be airborne. O'Hare added, "Our mission is to increase the public's awareness of aviation through the flight of historic aircraft while supporting the local children's hospital." The Hixson Flight Museum has donated more than $18,000 for the Children's Hospital at Erlanger.
The cost to be a sponsor and take one of those flights is just the cost of the fuel: $350.
Also, the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola is loaning the Hixson Flight Museum a T-34 Charlie from Naval airbase Oceana in Viriginia.
That plane should come in sometime Tuesday evening.
The Hixson Flight Museum is open from 10:00am until 4:00pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 1:00pm until 4:00pms on Sundays.
You can learn more about the Hixson Flight Museum by clicking here