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Let’s Get This Party Started

To serve you better and to control the look of our messaging more fully, we have changed over to this format of delivering news of our efforts right here on our site. Please take a look at all of the exciting things going on!

President’s Message

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to switch frequencies from lockdown gloom over to an attitude of gratitude.  While the light at the end of the tunnel is dim and arguably a ways off, it’s out there. Here at WOTN, our leadership team is busy getting back in the swing of being a relevant part of our local community and the midwest aviation scene.  Plans are being laid down now for Warbird In Review, movie nights, open houses, new museum exhibits, photo days, plane cleaning, and of course AirExpo 2021! I’m excited about the energy surrounding our “coming back out” plans and I think you will be too.  So take some time to find out what’s going on for this year and plan to get involved.  Hanging around interesting and like-minded people is a great way to break the lockdown blues!  See you soon.

Gratefully, Jack Larsen

Shillelagh

On August 16, 1944 , then Lt. Ken Dahlberg took off in Shillelagh, a P-51B model Mustang and headed for Paris.  On the way, his flight jumped over twenty enemy aircraft in a twisting dogfight. Lt Dahlberg managed to shoot down four aircraft before he himself was shot down.  His plane crashed on a French estate and he escaped and eventually made his way back to his squadron to fly and fight again.WOTN, in collaboration with the Ken and Betty Dahlberg Foundation and Air Corps Aviation recovered what’s left of Shillelagh this past summer on the 76th anniversary of it being lost.  Follow along with us to see more of the recovery, the complete restoration and ultimately the first flight of a beautifully restored Shillelagh.  Watch for posts on our various social media and special emails from the Museum.  And feel free to hit share! This will be a world-class aircraft and will take its place among the very few “B” models flying today.   Special thanks go out to The Dahlberg Foundation for their generous financial support. 

Dubay Scholarship

March 1st marks the deadline for applying for this year’s James F. Dubay Scholarship. For more info, go here. To apply go here.

Pete Bauer... Wings of the North Volunteer


Volunteer Spotlight – Pete Bauer

This quarter, we are proud to feature Pete Bauer as one of our dedicated volunteers who is always available to support our aircraft operations activities.  

Q: What do you do as a volunteer?

A: Aircraft/Hangar Operations, Crew Chief & AirExpo 

Q: How did you first get involved?

A: I went to AirExpo2016 after my first museum/hangar tour in April, over at the old location across the field.  After a long chat with John Sinclair (Chief Pilot), I started showing up and pushing a broom around.  Then cleaning airplanes.  Then after months of getting to know the people and process, and after a few doors started to open, I found my home.  My position evolved over the next couple of years. And here I am! 

Q: What keeps you coming back?

A: I like the people, connections, interactions.  I like our mission of preserving and educating.  I like being able to see/touch/smell/hear pieces of history. 

Q: What’s your favorite volunteer story or memory?

A: Sitting in the Bush Stearman, on the taxiway, prior to AirExpo2018, watching an A10 doing a low approach as it came in.  My first thought was “did that just happen?!” And second “that was AWESOME!”

2021 Wings of the North Sweepstakes mystery airplane

Wings of the North Fundraising Sweepstakes

Our Sweepstakes 2020 was a big hit! The Cessna 150 Grand Prize winner was Jon Jackson of Chester, Maryland. Thank you for your generous support to our mission at Wings of the North.  We are preparing to launch the 2021 Sweepstakes soon and plan to have a great lineup of prizes and a very special grand prize which we will reveal shortly.

John Bormes – Sweepstakes Chair

Grumman Albatross making a low pass in front of some Wings of the North volunteers

AirExpo 2021

July 24th and 25th are the dates for this year so be sure to mark your calendars to attend this exciting airshow the whole family can enjoy.  We will be showcasing a number of famous historical & contemporary aircraft as well as many interesting exhibits.  There will be flight demonstrations, ground static displays, and you can talk to the pilots and crew about their experiences flying these impressive machines.  The Yankee Air Museum’s B-17 “Yankee Lady” will be returning this year and we are waiting on confirmations from other warbirds and military aircraft from around the country.  We also plan to teach our Aviation Merit Badge Classes as in previous years in conjunction with the AirExpo.  We are hopeful the COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted by summer!

Greg Doeden – AirExpo Director

WOTN Volunteer Docent Giving a Tour

The Museum is open!

In accordance with the most recent Covid-19 guidelines, the Air Museum is once again open to the public.  Regular hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm.  Face masks and social distancing are required but we are thrilled to be able to show off our great museum again! About a month before the most recent shut down we were fortunate to acquire a full-size replica of the Wright Flyer which is now on display.   This replica was commissioned by the State of Minnesota to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brother’s first flight in 1903 and was built by Flight Expo, a nonprofit group in Princeton, which has loaned the replica to us for display. Our museum is also the home to five fully restored and airworthy World War II airplanes in addition to hundreds of other aviation artifacts, pieces of art, and memorabilia.  We have a free aviation lending library with over two thousand books and we are also the home of the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame. 

High School Senior Photos Invitation Graphic

We are currently taking reservations for times to take high school graduation photos next to our airplanes.  Please contact us at either [email protected] or 962-746-6100 for costs and available time periods.  Congratulations to the Class of 2021! Please visit our web site at www.wotn.org/museum for more information. We hope to see you at the museum again soon.

Bob Jasperson – Museum Director

WOTN BT-15 Hooked Up To A Tug

Wings Restorations

The Wings Restorations Crew is currently working on three projects.  Two of them are nearing completion and the last one is in the startup phase. 

Link Trainer Instructors Desk

The desk for the instructor that controls a link trainer has been refinished so that it can be displayed alongside the link trainer in the Museum.  There are some remaining fittings that need to be constructed, but we look forward to putting it on display in the very near future. 

Vultee BT-15 Valiant Restoration

BT-13 and BT-15 aircraft were the most-produced basic trainer during WWII, with both the Army Air Force and the Navy using variants.  Our BT-15 spent time at Gunter Field in Alabama, where it was used for pilot training and also at Love Field in Texas at the Material Transfer Command.This has been a multi-year project that will culminate in this trainer’s first post-restoration flight this year.  Progress slowed in 2020 because of the pandemic, but we are again ramping up restoration efforts.  The cockpit instruments are being installed, along with the canopies and windscreen.  The cowling is ready for paint.  There are still numerous tasks remaining, including the baggage compartment and door, installation of the required modern radios/intercom/ADS-B/transponder/ELT, seatbelt installation, and the tail-cone repair. 

Beech AT-11 Kansan Restoration

AT-11 type aircraft were also used by both the Army Air Force and the Navy.  The aircraft is a derivative of the Beech 18, also known as a Twin Beech.  It is notable for the Glass bombardier type nose with Norden bombsight and dual bomb bays where ten 100 lb practice bombs could be deployed.  AT-11’s could also be equipped with top 30 cal gun turrets and handheld 30’s for gunnery training or 3 navigation stations for navigation training. Our AT-11 restoration will not begin in earnest until the BT-15 is completed.  However, we have spent about 6 weeks rearranging the hangar and adding additional pallet racking to accommodate the AT-11 and its many spare parts.  Over two weekends we relocated the fuselage from Aircorps Aviation in Bemidji to our hangar where it is currently awaiting the official start of the project.  In the very near future, we will assemble a team to go back to AirCorps Aviation and pick up a semi load of spare parts to bring them back to be inventoried and stored onto the new shelving.

Greg Kaminski – Restorations Director

WOTN Events Calendar Graphic

Events Calendar

Our normal volunteer ops tempo is reflected below but COVID restrictions have impacted these events.  Please contact the POC by email if you have any questions and would like to join us. 

Monthly Activities:

  • 1st Thursday of the month – Outreach Team Virtual Meeting (630pm) Contact [email protected]
  • 3rd Thursday of the month – Air Expo Team Meeting (630pm) Contact [email protected]
  • 4th Thursday of the month – Hangar Cleaning Night (600pm food/social; 630pm for cleaning) Contact [email protected]
  • Movie Night will resume when COVID restrictions are lifted (every other month after Hangar Cleaning) Contact [email protected]
  • Air Museum – Open Every Sat & Sun (1100am-300pm) 

Monthly Events

We plan to host these activities throughout the year.  Please check www.wotn.org for additional information as it becomes available:

  • April – Museum Open House
  • May – Warbird Photography Day
  • June – Warbird in Review
  • July – Air Expo 2021 (7/24 & 25)
  • August – Warbird in Review
  • September – Museum Open House
  • October – Restoration Workshop
WOTN Docent Giving a Tour

Call for Volunteers

We have many opportunities for people who would like to support our mission and get involved with our community of aviation minded enthusiasts.  Volunteer involvement in our Museum, AirExpo,  Outreach & Communications, Restorations, and Programs. 

Contact [email protected] for information and include your desired activity for involvement.

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Delivery of Sweepstakes Cessna

Congratulations to the WOTN Sweepstakes Grand Prize Winner, who selected the WOTN Cessna 150  and flies it to its new home.
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In Loving Memory

June 24, 1923 – October 16, 2020
Richard “Dick’ Kaminski

Age 97, of Richfield. Proudly served in WWII as a B17 Waist Gunner, flying missions over Europe with the 8th Air Force in England in the 457th Bomb Wing. Dick served in Glatten, England and flew 15 missions; the longest was 10 hours, 5 minutes to Bohlen. The shortest was 6 hours to Hopsten. He was a long time employee at Munsingwear.

Richard is a past president of the Minnesota Chapter of the 8th Air Force Historical Society. He was also a friend and volunteer with Wings of the North.

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Wright Flyer Replica

Thanks to all the volunteers who helped move and setup the flyer at the museum.

The Wings of the North Air Museum now has on display a full scale replica of the Wright Flyer! The original Flyer was flown four times by Orville and Wilbur Wright on December 17, 1903, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, becoming the first powered heavier-than-air craft to display sustained controllable flight. The original is on display in the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

The replica aircraft was commissioned by the State of Minnesota to celebrate the centennial of the first flight in 2003. It was built by Flight Expo Inc., a volunteer nonprofit group in Princeton, Minnesota, which has loaned the aircraft to Wings of the North for display. It is housed in the museum’s hangar along with a replica of Minnesota native Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. Also on display are up to five airworthy World War II aircraft plus numerous other aviation items and artifacts from all eras. The museum is open Saturdays and Sundays 11am to 3pm and at other times for private tours. Please check with the museum for limitations due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

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BT-15 History Revealed

N69987 as it appeared in 1954-1955 from a quick scan of an original negative.
Ed Pachnik’s wife Shirley (left), his sister Helen Gaulke, and his sons Randy and Jim in the cockpits of N69987 circa 1954-1955.

The Wings of the North BT-15 is nearly the completion of its 16 year restoration at the Wings Restoration hangar on the north side of Flying Cloud Airport. On Saturday, July 25, a visitor came to the hangar to tell some stories of the aircraft. His name is Mike Pachnik and his father Chester and uncle Edward were the last people to own and fly the aircraft before it was acquired by Wings of the North friend Mike Rawson in 1992. Chester’s widow (and Mike’s mother) Martha died in April of this year and while her son Mike was cleaning out the family home so that it could be sold, he came across some information and photographs he thought the museum might like to have. It included Chester’s pilot logbook, his pilot license, his mechanic license, and many photographs among other things. It also included stories about Chester and Ed to provide some context to their ownership of the airplane.

Ed Pachnik

Ed was born near Objibwa, Wisconsin in 1921 to Stanley and Anna Pachnik who immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1911. Ed was 20 years old when the United States entered World War II and became a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot in the 95th Bomb Group, 355 Bomb Squadron based in England. According to a 95th Bomb Group memorial web site, Ed flew 12 missions at the tail end of World War II. Information on his missions can be found here: https://95thbg.mmsw.eu/person/5074

Ed in his flying gear in January, 1944.

After the war, he worked as a mechanic residing in the Chicago area. Chester died in 1991 after a tractor accident on his farm/private airport near Radisson, Wisconsin. His obituary says he was also a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Chester Pachnik

Chester was also born in Ojibwa, Wisconsin. He was ten years younger than Ed, having been born in 1931. Chester was also a veteran having served in the Korean War as a member of the United States Army. After the war, he worked to obtain his private pilot’s license. His first flight according to his log occurred on March 6, 1954 from the now defunct Harlem Airport which was located near Oak Lawn, Illinois – a Chicago suburb. More information on the historic Harlem airport can be found in this Air&Space article from 2010: https://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/the-other-harlem-5922057/?all

His early flights were in a Piper J-5A, but on October 16, 1954 Ed and Chester purchased BT-15 N69987 from Glen Ehnert in West Bend, Wisconsin. The duo filed a ferry permit to move the airplane from West Bend to the Chicago area on October 24, 1954. Chester’s log book shows the flight to and from Harlem. His first flight in N69987 was on March 3, 1955 and he flew the airplane a total of eleven times. Most of his flights are shown in the log page shown below.

A page from Chester Pachnik’s log book showing most of his flights in N69987.

Chester ultimately earned his Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic’s license and relocated to the Minneapolis area where he worked at Northwest Airlines until he retired in 1995. Below is an image of Chester working on a propeller replacement on one of Northwest’s Boeing 377 Stratocruisers.

Chester Pachnik (facing the camera) working on a Northwest Boeing 377 probably at Minneapolis/St. Paul International. The picture dates sometime before 1960 when Northwest stopped operating the type.

Chester continued flying small planes until October, 1965. His last logged flight was around the local area. In this case, his log book states that the local area was Flying Cloud Airport. Chester died in 2013 and is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

BT-15 Storage

By September of 1955, the N69987 had stopped flying and at some point was stored in a quonset hut on Ed’s farm near Radisson, Wisconsin. It was eventually partially disassembled. Apparently at some point Ed tried to create a retractable gear version of the aircraft as the wing center section was opened up to try to make room for the landing gear. Ultimately, the airplane deteriorated in storage until Ed’s death in 1991. At that point, it was put up for sale and not quite a year later landed in the hands of Mike Rawson.

Check back as we add more to Chester and Ed’s story of their ownership of the BT-15. Many thanks to Mike Pachnik for sharing with all of us at the museum.

N69987 as it appeared in 1954–1955. The cowling is believed to be red with a white stripe.
Even in 1954-1955 – the effects of wear and tear show in this photo with missing paint on the propeller and cowling.
The canopy frame appears to be painted black or dark grey by this time in 1954-1955.

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