GENESEO — This historic statewide program was years in the making, and launched at the National Warplane Museum.
On June 29 The Historical Aviation Trail was showcased with 12 other aviation museums in the state.
Elissa Leuer, Livingston County Tourism and Marketing director worked closely with volunteers from the National Warplane Museum to make this happen. Volunteers Kevin House, Jamieson Steele, and Donna Walker were a huge help in the process.
Austin Wadsworth, National Warplane Museum president offered his love for this rich history as a guidance to help open the museum to The Historical Aviation Trail.
“In tourism we are all about spreading the wealth,” Leuer said. “We created itineraries that showcase other attractions on the trail. We have partnered with 12 other aviation museums in the state from Buffalo to Long Island, and we hope for this to grow.”
Leuer added that the National Warplane Museum approached them about making this dream become a reality.
“This is a big event for our county,” she said. “It is being hosted in Livingston County, but it handles aviation all across the state. Having a statewide event launched here is a big deal. Kevin House played a major role in helping us coordinate with the other museums. He has a lot of contacts in aviation.”
Leuer said the idea for this program started in 2015, and has taken off with great success.
“This is not a physical trail. It is a figurative trail. We thought if we all put our heads together we could create this wonderful program,” she said. “It means combining the New York State Tourism with the Livingston County Tourism. We are very proud to be a part of this program.”
Leuer said she hopes that by partnering with other museums there will be a push to make National Warplane Museum a statewide destination. The aviation history is a national treasure, and this is how we keep it alive.
Assemblyman Joe Errigo’s office sent in a citation honoring the Historical Aviation Trail.
House talked about the journey to creating this aviation trail program.
“A few years ago Austin Wadsworth had a meeting to ask if any of us were interested in helping to establish an aviation trail in New York State,” he said. “I soon found out I was over my head. I didn’t have the expertise to do it, or know how to raise the money. I also found out we had some trails before in New York State. They both collapsed. I found out that around the country other trails have collapsed.”
“It seemed that the common denominator was there was no follow through,” House continued. “I was introduced to Elissa at the Livingston County Chamber, and she has a lot of experience in the trails business. That is when things really started to take off. We have worked on this trail for about three years now.”
House believes on reason Wadsworth wanted to establish this trail wasn’t because we needed more business at the museum, but looking at all the museums throughout New York State interacting with one another.
Several of the partners were available at the launch party to offer insight into the trail.
Ryan Orlowski,Wings of Eagles Discovery Center volunteer talked about his excitement about working at the museum in Elmira.
“When I was little my grandparents would drive me past the (Wings of Eagles) museum, and would tell me what it was all about,” he said. “I decided at that time I wanted to be a part of it. We have all different kinds of aircraft, and focus on the wars from World War II to the early 2000s.”
Orlowski enjoys working on the simulations at the museum, and commented on how that is the most popular thing about the museum.
They will have a Mars Exhibit coming soon, and that will show what life would be like on the planet.
“This is a really great way to get more involved with other communities,” Orlowski said. “It is a great way to get the word out about other museums.”
Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville has a wide range of opportunity for everyone to enjoy.
Mike Collins, Empire State Aerosciences Museum trustee said that he hopes the museum will get some good publicity out of the trail.
“We are on the original site of the GE Flight Test Center,” he said. “They were working on that site in the 30s and 40s. We also had Charles Lindbergh land on our field on July 28, 1927. This is one of the first airports after Albany.”
The National Soaring Museum is known as the soaring capital of America.
Trafford Doherty, The National Soaring Museum director said that networking with the other museums on the trail is great for everyone.
“I used to fly gliders in the 60s and 70s. I would teach others how to fly the gliders for a long time,” he said. “Now I just enjoy being a part of this museum.”
Doherty talked about the connection to the Glenn Curtiss Museum, and how Curtiss was the Father of US Navy Aviation.
The National Soaring Museum showcases a WACO CG-4A, and several historical and vintage gliders and sailplanes.
Scott Clark, National Warplane Museum volunteer is working on enhancing the briefing room at the museum.
Clark has drawn out the Rebecca/Eureka Beacon System on a blackboard in the briefing room explaining how Whiskey- C47 communicated where to drop the bombs. Clark is looking for the Rebecca and Eureka Beacons to display in the briefing room.
To learn more about the Historical Aviation Trail visit http://historicalaviationtrail.com/ The 12 other partners include; Niagara Aerospace Museum, National Warplane Museum, Glenn Curtiss Museum, Wings of Eagles Discovery Center, Harris Hill Soaring Corporation, National Soaring Museum, Tommy Comes Home- Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation, Empire State Aerosciences Museum, Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, Cradle of Aviation Museum, and American Airpower Museum.