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Among the first to see the historical value of aircraft, Ed Maloney opened a museum in 1957 and has been adding airplanes ever since, like the Hawker Hurricane. What makes the Planes of Fame Air Museum especially thrilling to airplane fans is aircraft that fly. (David Johnston)

Ed Maloney's Mission

The man behind, beside, and all over, the Planes of Fame Air Museum.

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The museum hopes to have the P-59 flying by May.

Then there will be another project to fit in between the museum's regular attractions. On the first Saturday of every month, the museum holds an event usually combining a seminar with one or more demonstration flights. A recent Saturday program on naval air power featured the F4U Corsair, and a later event on "Remembering Wake Island" will include the Japanese Zero.

Each mid-May, Planes of Fame holds a two-day airshow, which is arguably the world's most spectacular aerial display of rare warbirds from all generations. It features aircraft from other collections as well as those from the museum. Last year's 50th anniversary show drew a record crowd of about 25,000. Where else, after all, can aviation fans still see three Lockheed P-38 Lightnings flying in formation?

And a new education facility for young people is in the works. Karen Hinton, who is raising the money to complete it, describes it as a hands-on learning center, organized to illustrate different eras of aviation with remote cameras that can relay images of airplanes in the museum, a flight simulator as well as a control tower simulator, and a working wind tunnel, among other features. The wind tunnel is now under construction.

A Quonset hut at the north end of the tarmac will house a new display to open later this year with artifacts and memorabilia from the 475th Fighter Group, a P-38 outfit based in the South Pacific. Charles Lindbergh flew combat missions with the group as a civilian pilot during the war.

Ed Maloney, his passion for collecting as strong as ever, dreams of more hangars to protect more airplanes. Recently, he stood in a hangar doorway gazing up at Steve Hinton pulling a P-38 through a steep 360 overhead. Does he ever get tired of watching these airplanes fly? I asked him. A "What, are you crazy?" smile came over his face.

"Never," he said.

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