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April/May 2000

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Palo Duro Canyon, TX
Wings Over the Rockies
Air and Space Museum
Alexander Eaglerock
The $100 Hamburger
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SW Aviator Magazine
3909 Central NE
Albuquerque, NM 87108
Phone: 505.256.7031
Fax: 505.256.3172
The New Kid on the Block
by Ronald E. Newberg, Exhibits Manager

The Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is Denver's newest major historical and educational facility. The museum is dedicated to reminding us of the rich history of flight in the Rocky Mountain region, and to teach the younger generation about the science of aviation and space travel. With 30 aircraft and special exhibits, there is something of interest in the museum for everyone.

Opened on December l, 1994, the Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum (WINGS) is Denver's first Aerospace Museum, and is the Official Air and Space Museum of the State of Colorado, as designated by the Colorado State Legislature. The museum is dedicated to education, science, mathematics, and technology. Seventeen military aircraft, from a B-1A Lancer, back to a vintage B-18A Bolo, and 24 various home-builts, sail planes, restorations, and reproductions are the centerpiece for this educational venue. With the exception of the museum’s B-52B, all aircraft are displayed indoors in a climate controlled environment. The B-52 has a place of honor at the front door to the Museum, and greets all visitors.

In addition to the aircraft on display, the museum is home to other historically significant displays, including the Lafayette Foundation collection of World War I uniforms and memorabilia. The Jill Haltom Smith, "Dressed for Duty" collection of Women in Uniform also has a prominent place in the museum.

With 165,000 square feet under one roof, the museum also serves the Denver Metro community as its third largest event venue. The museum plays host to many large events each year, including the Rocky Mountain Air Fair. The annual Air Fair is the largest general aviation expo in the Rocky Mountain Region, and is normally held during March of each year. Many other local, state, regional, as well as national and international organizations find the museum to be an interesting and unique site for their special event.

Though WINGS is one of the newest air museums in the nation, its rich heritage can be traced back much earlier. The museum is located in historic Hangar One at the former Lowry Air Force Base. Constructed in August, 1939, Hangar One was one of the first building erected on the fledgling Army airfield. The first unpaved runway became operational at Lowry Field on April 4, 1938. Lowry’s first six aircraft, the Air Corps' new B-18A medium bomber, made the 30 block flight from Denver Municipal Airport to Lowry on December 13, 1939, following completion of the new north-south runway.

Throughout Lowry’s history, all aircraft assigned and flight operations were in support of the training mission. Bombardiers, Aerial Photographers, Aerial Gunners, as well as supporting personnel were trained at Lowry. Training for maintenance on the Top Secret Norden Bomb Sight was also conducted at Lowry.

The Museum at Lowry started as a camera collection at the Aerial Photographers School in 1967. The size and scope of exhibits in the museum grew, eventually being incorporated as the "Lowry Heritage Foundation" in 1982. The Museum received its first aircraft from the Air Force Museum in 1984, and placed this and all future aircraft on outdoor display.
Transporting these aircraft to Lowry AFB was considerably more difficult than you might imagine. All of Lowry’s flying operations had been transferred to the nearby Buckley Air National Guard Base, located six miles to the east, on June 30,1966. The training mission at Lowry continued however, with all new display and training aircraft being flown into Buckley, then disassembled and trucked to Lowry. Non-flying aircraft were brought in from Davis Monthan AFB by truck and reassembled at Lowry.

Lowry was placed on the base closure list in 1991, and on September 30, 1994, the American flag came down for the last time at Lowry Air Force Base. With the base closed, the fate of the Heritage Museum was also sealed. Representatives from the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB immediately began an extensive inventory, packing, and shipping project. This project resulted in all of the significant exhibits, including the extensive camera collection, being shipped to Wright Patterson for storage or display. The display aircraft were listed as available to other Air Force facilities and museums.

A few far-sighted individuals rapidly started a movement to establish the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum, hoping to preserve the dwindling museum for all of Denver’s citizens. The process of becoming a museum was successful, officially opening on December 1, 1994. This date is significant in that it coincided with the 100th birthday of Francis Lowry, for whom Lowry Field had been named.

WINGS now had a running start, with twenty aircraft already conveniently located on site, many with historic significance. Like all newly formed groups operating on a shoestring, things went downhill for a time. Then, with a staff of very dedicated volunteers vowing to keep the museum going and operating in the black, things improved. Today WINGS has a very enthusiastic paid staff and many plans for expansion.

Located at 7711 East Academy Blvd. in Denver, the Wings Over the Rockies Museum is open 10 to 4 Monday through Saturday, and 12 to 4 on Sunday. Call (303) 360-5360 for more information, or visit their web site at

Getting There

The Wings over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is in the unique position of being land-locked (no runway), so you will need ground transportation to visit the museum. Call the museum for directions.

There are several nearby airports. The largest is Centennial, located south of Denver below the Class B airspace, and roughly a twenty minute drive south of the Museum. It is the second busiest general aviation airport in the country. Centennial has two large FBOs. Signature Flight Support offers GA friendly service and attitude. Hertz rental cars are available through Signature, call them at (303) 790-2575 for reservations and information. Centennial’s other FBO is the Denver Jet Center.

Other close-by airports are Aurora and Front Range, both just south of Denver International (DIA), and 20 to 30 minutes east of the museum along Interstate 70. Aurora is the closer, and significantly smaller, of the two. They will happily loan you the courtesy car for a trip to the museum, call the FBO to check availability at (303) 361-9630. The Aurora airport is directly under the approach path to DIA. Remain south of the Interstate and below 6500 feet to avoid straying into the Class B airspace.

Also be conscious of the close proximity to the surface Class B north and west of Front Range airport. This full service airport offers free shuttle service weekdays into town, including to the Wings Over the Rockies Museum. If arriving on the weekend, or if you’d just rather drive yourself, Thrifty rental cars are available at the airport. Call (303) 261-9100 for more information and reservations.

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The material in this publication is for advisory information only and should not be relied upon for navigation, maintenance or flight techniques. SW Regional Publishing, Inc. and the staff neither assume any responsibilty for the accuracy of this publication's content nor any liability arising out of it. Fly safe.