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Sunday, June 1, 2003
Last modified at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 28, 2003
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photo: attractions

  A look at some of the exhibits housed in the Silent Wings Museum, which is located at 6202 N. Interstate 27. The museum pays tribute to World War II glider pilots who were trained in Lubbock.
t A-J File Photo

Lubbock remembers military history
Museums, memorial throughout area pay tribute to heroes


The nation's military veterans are highly esteemed in the Lubbock area.

Among the ongoing memorials to their valor and to the history of U.S. warfare, are the Silent Wings Museum, Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial and the Texas Air Museum-Caprock Chapter.

More than 4,000 of the 5,000 World War II glider pilots trained at South Plains Army Airfield, now the site of Lubbock International Airport, and much of their history can be learned at the Silent Wings Museum.

The museum, located in the original terminal building of LIA, is immediately east of Interstate 27. It houses artifacts that range from leather flight jackets to a fully restored glider like those flown during the pre-dawn aerial invasion of Normandy.


  A look at one of the banners that is on display in the Silent Wings Museum, which pays tribute to World War II glider pilots.
t A-J File Photo

The brash pilots who trained here adopted the cartoon character Bugs Bunny as an unofficial mascot because he exemplified a daring, can-do attitude. A banner depicting Bugs Bunny from World War II is among the artifacts at the Silent Wings Museum.

Another 9,000 items, including photographs, rifles, and the canvas from a D-Day glider are among the displays.

The training of pilots in unpowered planes over Lubbock skies was risky, and some estimates place casualties as high as 25 percent. Later, in war, the casualty rate climbed to 50 percent.

The museum is large, with 40,000 square feet of space in its overall project, and 16,000 square feet of space devoted to exhibits.


  A look at some of the early construction that went on during the building of the Silent Wings museum, which is located in the original Lubbock International Airport building.
t A-J File Photo

In its quarters in the original terminal building, the museum has three exhibit galleries, a restoration workshop, multi-media theater, research library and a gift shop.

The Silent Wings Museum, which originated at Terrell, was later brought to Lubbock because of this area's history of training glider pilots.

Individuals who trained here participated in World War II battles at places such as Normandy on June 6, 1944; Southern France, Aug. 15, 1944; Holland, Sept. 17, 1944; Bastogne, Dec. 26-27, 1944; Varsity, March 24, 1945; and Luzon, June 1945.

The craft they flew was the CG4A, which had a wing span of 83 feet, eight inches. Its overall length was slightly more than 48 feet. The height was nearly 13 feet, and it weighed 3,750 pounds.

Military history

Silent Wings Museum:

Location: 6202 N. Interstate 27.

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday.

Admission: General, $4; seniors 60 and older, $3; children younger than 12, $2; school groups, $1 per student.

Information: 775-2047

Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial:

Location: 82nd Street and Nashville Avenue, in Henry Huneke Park (under construction).

Admission: Free.

Information: American Legion Post 575, 794-9006.

Texas Air Museum:

Location: Two miles north of U.S. 84 on Farm Road 400, at Slaton Airport.

Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

Admission: $4 adults, $2 children.

Information: 828-4664.

The Silent Wings Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. General admission is $4 per person; seniors 60 and older, $3; children younger than 12, $2; and school groups, $1 per student.

In the works

Lubbock's special recognition of all military veterans who were ever residents of this area is under construction at 82nd Street and Nashville Avenue in Henry Huneke Park.

It is called the Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial, and plans call for dedication ceremonies to be held on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

The memorial will consist of a wall of bricks containing the names of individuals who served in the military. It is being built under auspices of American Legion Post 575, and through contributions by businesses and the purchase of bricks by family members of veterans.

The project is expected to cost $1.2 million for construction.

Its design features a semi-circle wall of bricks containing the names of veterans. A central portion in granite will display the names of military men and women who died in war.

Other portions of the memorial will provide space for the names of individuals and businesses who would like to support the project and express support for veterans or the nation.

The Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial is designed in a way that will allow extension of the walls for the future addition of other veterans' names. It is planned by the American Legion as a continuing memorial that will never be closed.

When the initial construction is complete, visitors may view the memorial at any time, with no admission fee charged. Contributions to the American Legion, however, are welcomed as a means of providing maintenance.

Its initial capacity is 8,500 bricks that can contain the names of veterans.

Information is available by calling the American Legion at 794-9006.

War planes and associated artifacts are the focus of the Texas Air Museum-Caprock Chapter, located north of U.S. 84 on Farm Road 400 near Slaton.

Three of the nation's Century Series aircraft, considered legendary fighter planes, are on display at the museum. They are the McDonnell F-101B Voodoo, the Republic F105D Thunderchief, and the McDonnell F-4S Phantom II, originally known as the F-110.

The F-101B Voodoo, a prized exhibit of the Texas Air Museum, has a wingspan of almost 40 feet, and is 71 feet long. It has a height of 18 feet. The plane weighs 28,970 pounds empty, and can take off with a total weight of 52,350 pounds.

Its maximum speed is 1,134 mph at an altitude of 35,000 feet. A pilot and radar operator are considered the standard crew.

Static displays at the museum also include a Sikorsky HO4S Helicopter, Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star, North American T-2B Buckeye, Vought A7B Cosair II, Grumman F-14A Tomcat, and Link Trainer.

Another display, significant because it was widely known during the Vietnam War as the Huey, is the Bell UH-1H Iroquois.

Others include Northrop T-38 Talon Egress Trainer, Republic F-84F Thunderstreak, and Messerschmitt BF109F-4TROP.

Besides the static display planes, Texas Air Museum has a number of aircraft in various stages of restoration to flying status.

They include Mitsubishi KI-51 Type 99 Sonia (three replicas), North American NA-64 Yale, Cessna 195, DeHavilland DH-104 Dove, North American L-17 Navion, and Bristol 206 Beagle.

Flyable aircraft that are on display include the Boeing PT-17 Kadet, Stinson AT-19 Reliant, Taylorcraft BC-12D, Cessna 150, Boredom Fighter, and Aeronica K.

The T-33A Shooting Star that is on display was used at the former Reese Air Force Base, and the F-4S Phantom II on display is credited with shooting down a MiG-21 in the Vietnam War.

Texas Air Museum-Caprock Chapter is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children.

[email protected] t 766-8711

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