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Dec 7, 2010 4:17 PM by Andy Koen

National aircraft museum planned for Colorado Springs

On this the 69th anniversary of the attack at Pearl Harbor, there is an effort underway in Colorado Springs to honor and recognize the history of the men and women who designed built and flew America's planes during World War II by building a museum.

The National Museum of World War II Aviation would be located to south of the Colorado Springs Jet Center and consist of a complex of three current airplane hangars and a central museum educational center.  The project is estimated to cost between $12-15 million and the museum board hopes to break ground on the facility in 2-3 years.

Board member John Henry says the museum's focus will be to capture and retell the story of the people connected to the planes of the era.

"This biggest piece of this is going to be telling the story of how this nation came together to build this massive war machine and joined in a way that we really hadn't seen before," Henry said.

The museum will feature a handful of planes that actually flew missions during the war that have been restored to their former glory.

Museum board co-chairman Bill Klaers also restores historic airplanes. He says the planes are priceless.

"They're rare artifacts," Klaers said.  "They're not just aircraft; they're airplanes that are a piece of national history."

Future museum-goers will also be treated to a tour of Klaers' Westpac Restoration facility, one of the premier restoration facilities in the country. He and his company are currently restoring a one-of-a kind P-38 Lightning that was recovered from a site in Papua New Guinea for the museum.

Like all of the planes that come through his shop, the Lightning will be rebuilt using the same tools, techniques and standards that were originally used in the 1940's, and it will fly.

"To us, to build a static display aircraft is okay," Klaers said. "But it doesn't let people come out and really see it, feel it, touch it and hear it and that's part of the museum experience."

Representative Doug Lamborn is expected to introduce a resolution during the next Congress naming the museum the National Museum of World War II Aviation.

The board is currently raising money and hopes to break ground on the facility in 2-3 years.

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