Monday, February 26, 2018

Ed Good: Wyoming man works to continue aviation museum founded by his father

Ed Good inherited the Good Warbirds Museum from his father, Jim Good, along with the military and aviation memorabilia that Jim collected during his life.  Ed hopes to keep the museum open to preserve his father's legacy and partner with other organizations to expand its reach in the community.

Ed Good strolled through an old blue hangar at Casper/Natrona County International Airport. Once, U.S. Army pilots trained here during World War II. These days, aircraft fill much of the structure. But tucked in one corner is a series of rooms containing decades of historical items, from pilots' uniforms to aviation equipment.

The hangar houses the Good Warbirds Museum, which hosts aviation events and showcases the military and aviation memorabilia that Ed's father, Jim Good, collected through his life. Much of it comes from Jim’s own flying experience, which earned him a spot in the Wyoming Aviation Hall of Fame.

Hangar 1 was a temporary structure for bombers at the Casper Army Air Base, but it’s still here more than 75 years later, Ed said. He aims to keep it that way.

Jim ran the museum out of the hangar for more than two decades. Since his father’s death in 2016, Ed is the one giving tours and caring for the museum and its collection. His father's dream was for the museum to keep going, and that's what Ed plans to do. 

He’s working on ways to preserve and continue his father's legacy so future generations can continue to learn about and experience aviation at the historic hangar. Most recently, he's begun working toward a partnership with the national nonprofit Victory for Veterans Foundation to help ensure the museum's future. 

“It tells a real story, our family story and the history of the Casper Army Air Base,” he said. “There are a lot of things in there that hearken back to that time.”

Collection of history

Jim Good hosted the 1989 Flying Cowboy Air Show & Air Races at Hangar I. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flew in for the occasion, Ed recalled. His father officially opened the Good Warbirds Museum about two years later. 

Since then, the hanger has regularly hosted appearances, flights and programs with several touring vintage aircraft, including the Ford Tri-Motor and World War II B-17 and B-24 bombers. It's also where the Experimental Aircraft Association members introduce young people to flying during the annual Young Eagles flights.  

After Jim had retired from 25 years as a pipeline patrol pilot for Amoco, he spent more time flying for pleasure and established his private museum, Ed said. Every year for about three decades, he represented his state in the National Championship Air Races in Reno. He raced in his World War II-era T-6 advanced fighter trainer, which he modified for speed and dubbed the Wyoming Wildcatter. 

The museum showcases his trophies and photos from the races, where he came to know pilot and former astronaut "Hoot" Gibson and other well-known aviation figures. The images are some of Ed's most treasured in the museum, along with a smiling photograph of his mother, Dixie, peering over her shoulder from the seat of her husband's airplane. 

In another room at the hangar, a mannequin wears the U.S. Army uniform that Jim wore serving in the Berlin Airlift just after World War II. A nearby photograph shows him flying his T-6 in formation through Manhattan during the Freedom Flight for the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII. 

Ed pointed out photos of several aircraft his father rebuilt, including a World War II German Messerschmitt. The plane now resides in an Airbus industries museum in Germany and flies to air shows in Germany and the U.K.  

Filling a section of wall is a rare collection of photographs from Ed’s uncle Ray Englehart, who served as a photographer on a B-25 in the Pacific theater, Ed said. The images capture candid shots of people from Shanghai, China to Japan, along with other scenes of soldiers including groups leaving troop trains.

“This is probably one of my favorite parts of the museum,” Ed said. “I can stand here for an hour and just look at these pictures.”

The display cases around the museum contain a variety of antique and vintage items items, including aircraft instruments, an airport beacon and one of the early aircraft computers from a B-29. On one shelf sits a heavy piece of bullet-proof glass from an World War II-era ME-109 that Jim restored. There’s even fabric from the fuselage of his ME-109, from a time it crashed after takeoff, Ed said. 

Some items were donated, but much is from his father’s own collection, Ed said. Jim even imported a pair of Russian MiG-15 jet fighters from Poland. They now reside outside the museum.

The museum also displays photographs and relics, including practice artillery shells, from the time when the airport was the Casper Army Air Base.

Jim packed the museum with an eclectic mix of items, and not all pertain to aviation. Visitors also can find a wooden pipe organ and other antiques that belonged to Ed's great-grandparents, who homesteaded at Lusk. One room displays his father's collection guns from the 1890s to early 1900s near a large collection of arrowheads from his uncle’s oilfield at Kirby Creek. 

Ed began organizing and decluttering his father's collection two years ago when he took over the museum. It was always fun to see, but now it's a little easier, he explained.

"You’ve heard of hoarders, well, my dad was a hoarder on a commercial scale," he said, laughing. "This 15,000 square-foot hangar, and all of this." 

Ed's pride in his father's life's work is evident in his tours through the collection. His father’s flight log book sits open to a page from January 1979, showing he’d then flown 10,000 hours. He flew close to 40,000 in his lifetime, which is more than most airline captains fly in their careers, Ed said.

Ed has been a pilot since age 16, yet has flown just a fraction of his father’s hours, he said. He’s worked for the original Frontier Airlines in Casper as well as in Denver and Milwaukee. These days, he and his wife, Kendra, run a business providing management for relocation, downsizing and estate sales.

He spends much of his free hours amid the contents of the hangar. He's always discovering and learning something new. 

“There’s just so much to see out here,” Ed said. “You can come back three times and I could show you different things every time.”

Flight to the future

The Good Warbirds Museum has remained a hub of aviation activity even after Jim's death.

With help from the airport’s management and board, Ed has found ways to make the museum pay for itself -- including leasing the space for aircraft storage, he said.

But Ed wants to do more. He plans to remodel the museum and host more events. He wants to host fly-ins and bring back air shows to the hangar, he said. 

To accomplish his goals and secure the future of the museum, he’s working on partnering with Victory for Veterans, a nonprofit focused on helping veterans transition from military to civilian life.

The merger would offer the museum advantages including nonprofit status and additional volunteer help, he said. It's also fitting, since his father was a VFW post commander and passionate about veteran causes, Ed said.

“It would just be a really good thing to give Casper and the airport national exposure,” Ed said. “This is a great way to honor his memory and his legacy, by helping veterans.”

The Victory for Veterans Foundation board chair Mikel Burroughs said the partnership can expand ways for the museum to present military history as well as support local veterans. The foundation's work includes programs addressing veterans' employment, homelessness, health care and suicide prevention, he said.

"This museum can become a great icon and focal point of Casper," Burroughs said.

Ed has been discussing the possible merger with the airport board, which would have to approve the change. Board member Joe MacGuire said he'll be learning more about the nonprofit in the coming weeks. He and other board members have been considering options to preserve and enhance the museum and hangar, which not only hold World War II history, but also material from the Korean War and the Reno air races.

The hangar also brings personal memories for MacGuire. He grew up at the airport and met Jim Good when he was about 8 years old. Jim was a mentor to him as he earned his pilot's licenses and he even let MacGuire fly the Amoco airplane to collect hours. 

"He was generous about helping people along and helping them get further in their career," he said. "I owe Jim a lot, and he was a pivotal person in my life."

Pilot and Roosevelt High School science teacher Mark McAtee brings middle school students to see the hangar and museum. He also has brought high school students in an aviation science class he once taught, he said.

“There’s an amazing assortment of military history, air show history and just local Wyoming aviation history in there,” McAtee said.

Jim was widely-known in aviation circles locally and around the country, with ties to the the military, air racing and general aviation. The hanger has been a good base for general aviation events, McAtee said. The museum reflects Jim' impressive career and knowledge in airplane mechanics and flying.

“If you had a question about aviation," McAtee said, "you talked to Jim."

Good Warbirds Museum 

Where: 8220 Fuller St.
Visitors also may ask maintenance staff at the hangar for entry during weekday business hours if Ed Good isn't available.

Original article can be found here ➤

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