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Thu, Sep 23, 2004

Damage At Naval Aviation Museum

Aircraft Caught Outside By Ivan Fared The Worst

Warbird enthusiasts have been staying up late, eyes glued to their favorite news channel, hoping to get a glimpse of the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola (FL). Smack in the middle of Hurricane Ivan's sights last week, the museum's collection of rare and mystical warbirds was, in large part, on the flight line when the storm roared through, destroying or damaging 90-percent of the buildings at NAS Pensacola.

Good news, campers. It appears the majority of the museum's collection was spared Ivan's wrath.

"There was minimum damage," said Vice Adm. Jack Fetterman (USN, Ret.), who heads up the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. "The museum is in great shape."

Fetterman told local reporters only two of the museum's 70 or so planes on exhibit outside the museum were damaged by Ivan. Those inside were untouched by the storm. As for the museum itself, Fetterman said there was some water damage near the entrance, but that otherwise, the building came through just fine.

Even so, it appears it will be several days before the museum is again open for business. "We could be up for visitors within a week-and-a-half to two weeks," Fetterman said.

The worst damage done by Ivan may have been to delay a prospective museum donor. Fetterman said the unnamed donor is on the line for $5 million. The donor was supposed to be in Pensacola next week. But his trip may be delayed by Ivan. If that deal does go through, Fetterman said the museum hopes to use that money to break ground on an expansion that will give it more than a half-million square feet of covered space -- more than twice the floor space found at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington (DC).

"We feel confident if we can get that $5 million bump that we will be there," Fetterman told reporters.

FMI: www.naval-air.org

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