Friday, 10 July 2009 00:00
A new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plan that seeks to enhance runway safety at airports around the country would demolish the historic hangar that houses the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport, Farmingdale, prompting Congressman Steve Israel to introduce legislation that would compel the FAA to partially fund a replacement hangar and earning the support of U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer to introduce the same language in the “upper house.”
Congressman Israel and Senator Schumer told a packed news conference that they have no intention of allowing the museum to become homeless and lose their mission of honoring the American veteran.
As the museum’s fighters flew in formation overhead and leaders of Long Island veterans organizations sat in attendance, Schumer and Israel stated that will they will not allow the museum to be lost “on their watch.” The House of Representatives has already approved language that mandates the FAA to allocate $3 million towards a 35,000 square foot hangar replacement and Senator Schumer stated similar language will be proposed by his office in the United States Senate.
Schumer observed that his father was a C-47 master navigator during World War II flying dangerous missions over “The Hump” between India and China. “I know full well what these aircraft represent and the need to preserve and protect our American heritage.”
Israel, a frequent visitor of the American Airpower Museum, inspected its Thunderbolt P-47 with Georgette Feller, a “Rosie the Riveter,” who worked on that type of fighter some 65 years ago. “Let’s be clear,” stated the Congressman, “We are not bulldozing the legacy of Georgette and the tens of thousands of Americans who worked here as part of the Arsenal of Democracy. The idea that the FAA would demolish the museum’s hangar and walk away from their obligation to help rebuild is a non-starter.”
American Airpower Museum President Jeffrey Clyman said at the news conference, “For almost a decade this museum has successfully flown its mission of honoring every American who has worn the uniform. Today, that mission is at risk. Not because of our finances, or our attendance. Not because of flagging commitment or because the need is any less great. Ironically, this museum is stronger than it has been since its inception.
“Rather, a bureaucratic interpretation of regulations has sought to enact a death sentence for this living, vibrant, center of American history. Our members of Congress, and people like you, are ensuring that legislative change will prevent the dissolution of this national treasure,” he said.
Among those addressing the elected officials was Ed Collins, a member of Patton’s Army who came ashore at Utah beach during Operation Overlord. He said, “It was not so many weeks ago that I stood here as part of the only D-Day ceremony in the northeast where children born of the Internet age sat in stunned silence as they heard what we had to say about storming the beaches of Normandy. This place isn’t a memorial to the veterans of my generation. It is a living, dynamic tribute to every veteran who has served. And it cuts across all generations because it is an operational air base, using its aircraft and armor to put us in another place and another time.”
“As a D-Day veteran I am compelled to be here. But these two elected officials are here because they believe in the mission – they understand what this place represents. And what they will insist upon is fairness in ensuring federal bureaucrats replace a hangar they seek to demolish,” Collins said. Then, departing from his prepared remarks, Collins turned to Senator Schumer and Congressman Israel and said, “Now get back to Washington and kick some butt.”
Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone whose township is home to the museum and Republic Airport, reminded, “The American Airpower Museum has become a powerful economic engine within the Republic Airport – Route 110 corridor. It has become a world famous destination and it has a role to play as we further strengthen this region. The support of Congressman Israel and Senator Schumer ensures that the museum will not only be protected but will grow far into the future.”