An extended fence line, additional space for its book collection, the establishment of a veterans memorial, relocation of an immobile plane.
The nonprofit Delaware Valley Historical Aircraft Association which operates the Wings of Freedom Museum in Horsham, is hoping to get the ok from the federal government to implement four proposals which they hope will make it easier for the public to view the roughly two dozen aircraft and other aviation-related artifacts on display.
The Horsham Land Reuse Authority, during its meeting Wednesday afternoon, directed HLRA staff to submit DVHAA’s proposals to the Navy Base Realignment and Closure Program Management Office for review and consideration.
HLRA Executive Director Mike McGee said he expects a “quick response” from the government.
“They are aware of the proposals,” McGee said, adding that the Navy did not want to comment until the HLRA acknowledged support.
DVHAA volunteer Mark Hurwitz told Patch after the meeting that the fence extension – which would make it longer along Route 611 – would cost about $3,000 and would allow easier public access for the aircraft in the rear exterior of the museum.
DVHAA also hopes to install modular trailers for its book collection, as well as offices.
“This will not require anything more than a review by the Navy,” McGee said. “All revisions to the property need to be reviewed by Navy before being implemented.”
The federal government owns the property currently in use by DVHAA. The Navy has a lease with the HLRA, which, in turn has a sublease with DVHAA. As part of the 862-acre redevelopment plan approved locally for Willow Grove air base, the air museum would nearly double its existing acreage to a total of 13 acres.
Other more immediate DVHAA proposals discussed Wednesday include the creation of a veterans memorial, including a flagpole, which would be “consolidated for public view” along Route 611, according to McGee.
DVHAA also hopes to get permission to relocate its P-3, something that is impossible currently because, according to McGee, “the airplane is not fit to move.”
Hurwitz said that until the restoration team is given the go-ahead to evaluate the plane, it’s hard to say if the aircraft needs a few nuts and bolts, or something more complicated.
“We have to get in there to look at it,” Hurwitz said.
Still hanging in the balance is how a circa 1931 Harold F. Pitcairn PA-8 Mailwing will be delivered to the museum. Some have suggested that the plane be flown into the shuttered runway at the base.
McGee said that’s unlikely.
“We can’t stop the United States from reopening an airport,” McGee said, adding that he would be “flabbergasted” if that is granted. No one, including the President of the United States, would be allowed to land on a shuttered runway, for safety reasons, McGee said.
Regardless, Hurwitz said the Mailwing would once again make its home in Horsham.
“The plane is coming, that’s for sure,” Hurwitz said. Once legal matters are settled with the Pitcairn family estate, Hurwitz said he anticipates a reconfigured museum to make way for the plane, which he hopes to have on display sometime around Labor Day.