World War II museum at Heber City airport

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HEBER -- At the south end of Russ McDonald Field in Heber City, there's a brand new hangar -- a museum, really -- with a World War II era PV-2 "Harpoon" war plane parked outside. Inside there are several more airplanes and a lot of memorabilia.

The collection belongs to the Utah Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. The CAF is part of a national nonprofit organization with a lofty goal.

According to Steve Guenard, operations officer of the CAF Utah Wing, "It's an organization whose mission is to preserve in flying condition all of the aircraft that the U.S. military used in World War II."

When the war ended, thousands of "war birds" ended up parked in desert graveyards or chewed up for scrap. In 1961, the first chapter of the Commemorative Air Force -- known then as the Confederate Air Force -- was formed in Texas to find and restore every type of plane that was flown in the war, to preserve them for future generations.

"It's history," says Guenard. "And it's something that the further away that we get from World War II or earlier wars, the less our children know about it these days."

The CAF has more than 150 planes spread throughout the country that have been restored. These aren't replicas -- these are the actual planes that flew during war time. Now, the various CAF wings fly the planes to air shows each year.

The Utah Wing of the CAF has about 10 restored planes. In July, many of the planes will participate in a summer tour.

"We're going to go down to St. George and work our way back up," Guenard says. "We'll stop in Cedar City, Nephi, Spanish Fork, Provo, out to Wendover, then to Ogden and up to Logan."

Besides the planes, the Utah Wing also has a number of items donated from Utah aviators, such as uniforms, patches and old newspaper articles.

Guenard says, "One of the things that we want to concentrate on as the Utah Wing is Utah aviators and Utah military men."

The hope is to collect even more memorabilia and display it at the museum.

For now, the museum is open only on weekend, though there are plans to start a Wednesday through Sunday schedule. Guenard says if someone drops by and the doors are locked, there are phone numbers posted. Volunteers are more than happy to come down and show off the place.



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Keith McCord


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