GREENVILLE— Seaplanes have been around for a long time. And, for more than 80 years, people have flown and landed on Moosehead Lake via the intrepid flying services of the time, one being Curtis-Wright Flying Service in 1931. Now with the annual International Seaplane Fly-In slated for Sept. 6 – 9, 2012, it’s a good time to remember the rich and colorful flying history of the Moosehead Region. The perfect place to start would be the Moosehead Lake Aviation Museum, which is housed in the Center for Moosehead History on Lakeview St. in Greenville.
In 2011 The Moosehead Historical Society and Museum received significant donations from Telford and Karen Allen III and Henry and Ellen Hinman in honor of Telford Allen Jr.,” said to Executive Director Candy Russell. “It is those funds which have enabled the Society to establish the Moosehead Lake Aviation Museum. We have collected numerous artifacts, photographs and paper ephemera relating to the early aviation in this region. We have found the local community to be very generous in both donating and loaning us articles for our aviation exhibits. Because of the support we received the displays represent the very important contributions that float planes, bush pilots, the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, the Maine Forest Service and the Greenville Municipal Airport have played in the region’s history.”
One of the stars of the display is an ejection seat, which most likely belonged to Lt. Col. Dante E. Bulli who survived the horrific crash of a B52 Stratofortress-C in January of 1963. Sgt. Bruce Reed of the Maine Forest Service discovered the seat last fall when he was out hunting. It was retrieved this past May and brought down the mountain by Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club member Dave Demers, Forest Ranger Doug Huettner and Ranger Pilot Chris Blackie. The battered seat is testament to the miraculous survival of Lt. Col. Bulli, who was piloting the doomed Stratofortress when the plane lost its vertical stabilizer and plunged into Elephant Mountain.
Many photographs are on display, chronicling the flying history of the region and the pilots that made their mark. It’s astounding to see some of the very old planes, some of which look like they could not make it off the ground let alone off the waters of a large lake like Moosehead.
In 2012 the Aviation Museum was expanded to include an additional exhibit room. This room celebrates the contribution to aviation history made by Charles Lindbergh. Lindbergh was definitely a pioneer in aviation and he was the first to accomplish a solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21,1927. A large, souvenir tapestry almost fills one wall, with a portrait of the young pilot framed by the French and American flags. There is also a striking, pencil portrait of Lindbergh. Items from the museum’s collection supplement this fascinating Lindbergh exhibit, which was generously loaned to the museum by Michael McKendry.
The museum includes exhibits representing the history of the early floatplanes, both personal and commercial, the importance of bush pilots, the development of Greenville’s Municipal Airport, and the involvement of pilots from the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the Maine Forestry.
The exhibit continues to grow. Recently wide wooden floatplane skis were donated and are displayed near the previously mentioned ejection seat.
As the exhibit grows additional items are always more than welcome. “We continue to be in need of photographs, pictures, film footage (such as home movies), paper ephemera, stories, interviews, or artifacts,” Russell said. “While outright donation of materials would be most appreciated, it will be possible to scan photographs and other ephemera, or accept items on loan.”
There is much to see in the Moosehead Lake Aviation Museum along with other unique exhibits in the Center for Moosehead History (formerly known as the Community House). Call 695-2909 for further information or visit online at moosheadhistory.org