New ‘nest’ for warbirds

Military veterans from World War II to those presently serving will be honored this July 4 when the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot holds the dedication of its new Flying Legends Wing.

Warren Pietsch, pilot and air museum board member, who also is vice president of operations and chief pilot for the Texas Flying Legends Museum, said Music Doing Good, a nonprofit group from Houston, will be coming to Minot to perform “Voices of Freedom,” a more than hour-long tribute show with patriotic songs of the nation.

“It’s a professionally produced show that will be done a half a dozen times throughout the U.S.,” he said.

That entertainment will be supported by the Minot band Soulshine.

The events at the air museum will be coordinated with Minot’s annual July 4 Festival of the Parks.

The air museum will be open all day and there will be static displays of World War II airplanes, World War II military vehicles and antique cars. Vendors will be selling food.

“That evening Soulshine will play a couple sets and the “Voices of Freedom” show will be on, and Soulshine again,” Pietsch said.

There will be flybys of antique and World War II aircraft.

When it’s dark, Visit Minot will be presenting a fireworks display at the south end of the airport.

“People can stay and watch the fireworks,” Pietsch said.

The Flying Legends Wing a new hangar to the Minot air museum is a more than $2 million project. R&K Contractors, Inc., Minot, is the general contractor for the project.

The project came about courtesy of donations from the Texas Flying Legends Museum and Bruce Eames of Houston, James Bradshaw of Strata Corp. in Grand Forks, the William Langer and Susan Flickinger Gokey Foundation of Minot, City of Minot sales tax collection funds and numerous other donors.

The new addition at the air museum will open when all of the Texas Flying Legends Museum’s World War II planes return to Minot from their winter home in Houston around June 1. When the warbirds return, now all of them will have a home in the new hangar.

The Texas Flying Legends Museum warbirds include a B-25 Mitchell bomber “Betty’s Dream,” P-51 Mustang “Dakota Kid II,” P-40 Warhawk, Corsair and the Zero, a Japanese fighter plane.

The Texas Flying Legends’ additional planes now include the L-5 Stinson Sentinel, Grumman FM-2 “Wild Cat,” Douglas C-53/C-47 Sky Trooper, P-51 Mustang “Little Horse,” Grumman TBM Avenger and Harvard/T-6.

The hangar is still under construction. Currently, work is being done on the inside of the building. Paving will still need to be done.

Displays are being planned for the new addition.

“We’re also eventually going to have a POW/MIA display there,” Pietsch said.

Another display being planned is the Gerry Beck and Bob Odegaard Memorial. Beck, of Wahpeton, who died in 2007, and Odegaard, of Kindred, who died in 2012, were well-known North Dakota pilots.

“We’re eventually going to build a 160-degree viewing circular theater that will have a feature-made film for the museum,” Pietsch added. When that is in place, schoolchildren who come to visit the museum will be able to see a film with some in-cockpit views.

Currently, Pietsch also is working with the Minot and Fargo air museums and the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission on a standard education program. The curriculum will become available to schools statewide.