Thursday, May 22, 2014

St. George, Utah: Warbird museum to honor Armed Forces with hangar dance, exhibitions


Memories fade as years pass, but a local nonprofit museum in the St. George Municipal Airport complex aims to preserve some of the United States' history of involvement in wartime air campaigns.

The Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum second annual Wings and Wheels celebration of the Armed Forces will kick off tonight with an old-style hangar dance, followed Saturday by an exhibition of vintage fighter planes, classic cars and thundering motorcycles.

"I love aviation. I love aircraft. But maybe my biggest thing is I love veterans," said Rebecca Edwards, the museum's manager. "I love those who served, and I want to teach young people … about those who served, so maybe they'll appreciate it and grow up to be good people."

The hangar dance with live swing band music will have an admission fee of $15, and The Red Rock Swing Dance group will appear in period dress to perform war-era dance moves and give dance lessons.

"If (people) want to come to the dance, they can dress in '40s styles or they can dress in current-style clothing," Edwards said. "A few World War II veterans are coming to the hangar dance, and the youngest of them is 88."

The Saturday exhibitions will be free to the public. Because the museum is a nonprofit organization, any donations it receives during the event can provide donors a tax break.

The museum normally houses five "warbirds" on display for visitors, but it recently added a T-38 Talon jet trainer that it acquired from the Hill Aerospace Museum in Layton.

A T-33 trainer will do a noon flyby at the airport Saturday as part of an Armed Forces flag presentation, and a T-6 Texan pilot will offer rides for sale at the event. Visitors also can climb into the cockpit of a Korean War-era MiG-15 to take photos.

"We try to add something new each year," Edwards said.

Some of the museum's planes will be part of the Thunder Over Utah air show in July, which will feature appearances by the Navy's Blue Angels precision aerobatics team, as well as the Army's Golden Knights precision parachutists.

"Some of our aircraft will be out on the ramp during the (July) show, and a couple of them will be flying, including the T-33, a MiG-15 and the British Jet Provost during the show's first day," Edwards said.

The T-33 will continue to be part of the July show's second and third days. People who buy tickets for the air show can have $5 of their admission donated to the museum by using the online code WSAWM during the ticket purchase.

Edwards said "anywhere from a few hundred to 1,000" Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders also plan to tour this weekend's event as part of a National Armed Forces Day Freedom Ride based at Washington City's Zion Harley-Davidson store Saturday.

If You Go

• What: Second annual Armed Forces Celebration Wings and Wheels.

• Where: Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum, St. George Municipal Airport complex.

• When: Dance, tonight from 7 to 11 p.m.; exhibition, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Cost: Dance, $15; exhibition, free.

• Information: Call 435-229-4985 or visit Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum's Facebook page.

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