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Naval museum takes off in the right direction; [North Shore Final , NS Edition]
Tina Kapinos, Special to the TribuneChicago Tribune .  Chicago, Ill.:  Aug 25, 2004.  pg. 16
Full Text (1082   words)
(Copyright 2004 by the Chicago Tribune)

Special section. Community Focus: Northbrook / Glenview.

A museum that opened recently in The Glen aims to tell the story of the Glenview Naval Air Station that once occupied the area.

The most important part of that story is the role the air station played during World War II, said Bobby Ferguson, museum committee chairman.

The station was the training ground for more than 15,000 pilots during the war, Ferguson said. Pilots--among them former President George Bush--went to the base to become certified to take off and land from aircraft carriers. (Photocopies of Bush's flight log and orders are on display.)

The Naval Air Station Glenview Museum, at 1951 Tower Drive, opened June 19 in a 3,000-square-foot temporary space in the Glen Town Center provided by developer Oliver McMillan.

The foundation hopes to break ground on a permanent site in The Glen in the next four years, said Frank Mack, president of the Hangar One Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recognizing the service of those who were stationed at the Glenview base.

Glenview's role as a major center for Navy pilots came after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After the losses to the Navy fleet, all of its carriers were in service on the front lines, Ferguson said. To train pilots, the Navy converted two passenger steamships on Lake Michigan so they had the same kind of flat tops as aircraft carriers.

Pilots usually would stay in Glenview for three days to receive classroom instruction and practice takeoffs and landings on the base before flying out to Lake Michigan for training on the converted ships. Pilots had to have eight successful landings and takeoffs on the steamships for certification, Ferguson said.

A 6-foot-4 scale model of one of those ships, the USS Sable, is on display at the museum. The model is on loan from the Great Lakes Naval Museum until sometime in September.

Curator Beverly Dawson said she plans to rotate exhibits at the Glenview museum about every three to four months. The museum has about 500 items in its permanent collection and at least 150 on loan, she said. Those numbers are growing quickly, she said.

"I get e-mails just about every day saying, I have this or that, would you be interested?" said Dawson, who also is president of the Glenview Area Historical Society.

Nearby businesses have helped, too, pitching in with such items as mannequins to display uniforms and use of their photocopiers, Ferguson said.

Other museum items include old photographs, uniforms and models of planes that flew out of the base. The foundation is working with a model club to obtain more planes with Glenview markings. Seven of the roughly 45 aircraft on display have Glenview markings, Dawson said.

One especially large item in the museum's collection is the engine of a U.S. Navy Avenger airplane that took off from Glenview and crashed into Lake Michigan in the early 1940s. The plane was lifted from the waters in the early 1990s, Ferguson said.

"It's not in the museum because it weighs 2,000 pounds or something like that," he said. "It's a huge thing, and we can't get it through the door."

For now the museum will display the engine outside its doors on occasion.

Ferguson's favorite piece in the museum is a more personal one: a photograph of Glenview resident A.C. "Ace" Realie, immediate past president of the Hangar One Foundation. Realie, a retired colonel, served in Korea as a marine fighter pilot and was stationed at the Glenview Naval Air Station as a reservist. The picture depicts Realie as a young man stepping into an airplane.

"He sort of symbolizes many, many people of that era who donned the cloth of their country and went off to war," Ferguson said.

Members of the Hangar One Foundation were instrumental in getting part of the control tower preserved at The Glen. The tower sits down the street from the museum, as does Navy Park, another foundation initiative.

The park features three 6-foot bronze statues--a "yellow-shirt" who guides planes, a flight crew member and a sailor. The statues are replicas of ones at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Fla. The foundation has been selling memorial bricks for $100 each to help pay for the park. The bricks are being used to pave a walkway in the park.

The foundation has repaid about half of the $54,000 loan it received from the village and expects to repay the rest soon; it also has given the park to the village.

The foundation's next challenge is to find a permanent space for the museum and for a center for studying space science.

The foundation has a license from the Challenger Center for Space Science Education in Alexandria, Va., to develop the center, which would be used by students and teachers. It would have a computerized simulator with a mission control room and a model space station. The estimated cost of the center would be $10 million to $20 million, Mack said.

Ferguson hopes the new museum will be a springboard for making the Challenger Center a reality.

"A lot of people thought we'd never, ever, ever pull off this museum," Ferguson said.

Perhaps now people will support the foundation's goal of finding a permanent home for the museum and Challenger Learning Center, he said.

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Naval museum details

Address: 1951 Tower Drive, Glenview.

Phone: 847-657-0000.

Web site: www.hangarone.org.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, or by appointment for group tours.

Run by: Hangar One Foundation, P.O. Box 198, Glenview, IL 60025- 0198.

Wish list: The museum is seeking donations related to the Glenview Naval Air Station, including memorabilia involving civilian employees, intelligence units, army aviation and primary flight training.

Dream items: "I have very little that's related to the women in service," said Beverly Dawson, museum curator. "It's a story that hasn't had a lot of attention."

[Illustration]
PHOTOS 2; Caption: PHOTO (color): Retired combat photographer Ted Koston of Melrose Park talks with Beverly Dawson, curator of the Naval Air Station Glenview Museum, during the June opening in its temporary space in Glen Town Center. Tribune photo by John Dziekan. PHOTO (color): Among the items in the collection at the Naval Air Station Glenview Museum is a model of a plane that was flown at the former base. The museum's temporary quarters in The Glen opened in June. Tribune photo by John Dziekan. (Northbrook / Glenview special section, Page 1.)

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.
Section:   Northbrook / Glenview
ISSN/ISBN:   10856706
Text Word Count   1082