Naval Air Museum Starts to Take off Glenview Men Work to Improve Collection Museum: President George H.W. Bush Trained at Glenview

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 7, 2010 | Go to article overview

Naval Air Museum Starts to Take off Glenview Men Work to Improve Collection Museum: President George H.W. Bush Trained at Glenview


Byline: Vincent Pierri vpierri@dailyherald.com

Passionate about preserving U.S. Naval history, Lowell Wallace, Bill Marquardt and Bob Coffin loved watching the Douglas SBD Dauntless and the F6F-3 Hellcat fighter planes being pulled from Lake Michigan last year.

The World War II-era training planes will eventually be restored and put on display in out-of-state museums. Nearly 40 aircraft have been plucked from the lake in the last 20 years. Remarkably, none can be found in Glenview,

The men, who are board members of the Glenview Naval Air Station Museum, say of all places in the country to display a recovered plane, it makes sense to have one here.

Thousands of pilots took off from the North suburban base and made their way to Lake Michigan to practice landings on makeshift aircraft carriers in the 1940s.

Now, the trio is leading a fundraising drive to build a $2.5 million permanent museum that would feature a recovered fighter plane as its centerpiece. The 7,500- to 10,000-square-foot facility would also have a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, hundreds of artifacts, photographs and educational displays.

"Something truly unique happened in this place," Wallace said. "So many young men passed through here on their way to fight in the Pacific. Some were here for just a few days, others longer. Many people who live here now don't have any idea of the history."

A tiny temporary museum is on-site, but the 1,000-square-foot space is inadequate to convey the historical significance, Wallace said.

At least 15,000 pilots trained at Glenview. Each needed to make about eight takeoffs and landings on the USS Wolverine or USS Sable, which floated about five miles offshore from Chicago, to qualify for carrier duty. One of those pilots was President George H. W. Bush.

The ships were originally paddle wheel cargo and excursion boats. The top sections were removed and replaced with 600-foot landing decks.

Anywhere from 130 to 200 planes crashed and sank during training late in World War II. …

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