The Liberty Aviation Museum is several pieces of a puzzle, combined for maximum tourist effect; hey, this area of Ohio isn't just all about Cedar Point Amusement Park, you know (though LAM is conveniently on the way!).
There's the museum component, which includes such exhibits as Clark Gable's WWII officer's uniform. There's a restored 1950s diner (named "The Tin Goose Diner"), trucked in from rusting away in Pennsylvania. There's a gift shop, an event space, excellent views to the private planes arriving at the end of PCW's runway and, finally, the hangar. It's in this hangar at the rear of the museum where the Tri-Motor Heritage Foundation is working on a project to restore a wrecked Tri-Motor to flying condition. This, accomplished with the assistance of passionate volunteers, is happening in full view of the museum's visitors.
The museum's goal? Maurice Hovious, the man who handed over the title of the plane to the foundation, answers: "To become center of the universe for all things Ford Tri-Motor, highlighting the major role it played in the fledgling airline industry." It was not an easy route for Maurice, either. He explained a tiny bit: "This airplane lived here long ago, then it went around the world and became destroyed." What an understatement (see our gallery for the aircraft's historical timeline).
We also spoke with Gil Stuber, a Tri-Motor Foundation volunteer of over three years, and he estimated that it'll be another five years before this baby reclaims her space in the skies over the Lake Erie Islands. And, when all is said the done, the finished aircraft could be valued around $3 million.
In the meantime, LAM visitors can witness the construction of wing spars, the fit-out of the interior and eventual painting in the old Island Airlines livery. Or, join in and get your hands dirty. The Foundation and museum are accepting volunteers of all sorts right here.
To ride in a different Ford Tri-Motor (or other vintage planes, like a P51C Mustang), stay tuned to the museum's events page and be sure to stop by when the diner opens for lunch in a couple weeks.
Bonus: The museum also has the world's only fully functional and floating World War II PT boat. The PT-728 will be able to give rides in Lake Erie from its dock in Port Clinton.
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]