Instead of watching the A-10s and fighter jets roar above Macomb County skies, people can get an up-close and personal look at the Selfridge Military Air Museum.
The museum held its grand opening Saturday afternoon and it will be open on weekends until the end of October, except for when the air show takes place in late August.
Museum Executive Director Lt. Col. Lou Nigro, a Chesterfield Township resident, said he hopes young and old fans of aircraft come to see the rich history of flight.
“Our visitor favorites include our three cockpit displays because guests can sit inside them,” Nigro said. “Our newest display aircraft are a modern F-16 and an A-10 aircraft.”
Besides the indoor museum building, there is also an air park with many planes, jets and other displays for guests to explore—even inside some of them.
The air park has 31 full-size vintage military aircraft from World War I to present day, plus an assortment of military vehicles and missiles.
Randy Helms of Canton brought his children, Robert and Riley, to the museum grand opening.
Helms said it is important for them to see and understand the history firsthand, so they know others fought for their freedom. Riley agreed, saying people in uniform should be shown respect.
Children can learn and have fun at the museum with interactive displays.
“My favorite thing to see was the A-7,” said Robert, who later climbed into the cockpit of an F-16 jet.
Assistant Museum Director Roger Krings said visitors can learn about military history and gain appreciation for technological advancements shown throughout the museum.
Harrison Township residents Mike and Pam Carpenter and their daughter C.J. also came for the grand opening.
C.J. said she enjoys studying about World War II and her favorite part of the museum was seeing the World War I SPAD fighter plane, which was one of the newer exhibits.
Visitors to the Selfridge Military Air Museum may see $5 million worth of displays, including:
- A full-scale historically accurate replica of a World War I fighter plane
- An interactive cutaway and motorized World War II aircraft engine
- A soon-to-be interactive air taffic control radar display
- An extensive display of original aviation art produced by noted aviation artists
- A Korean War-era Jeep
- Three aircraft cockpit trainers
- A modern F-16 Fighting Falcon
- A Vietnam-era A-7 Corsair II
- A World War II LINK trainer guests can actually sit inside
- A wide variety of military memorabilia including weapons, aircraft engines, military uniforms, military aircraft models and photographs spanning over the 93-year history of the base
New to the museum are:
- A World War II LINK trainer
- An F-16 jet and A-7 cockpit trainer in a newly redesigned area created specifically for those displays
- “Last year we acquired a C-130E and an A-10A that are displayed outside in our air park,” Nigro said.
Nigro has been taking care of the nonprofit air museum since 2000, when he retired from the Michigan Air National Guard.
“I was inspired to get involved with our air museum because of my interest in the history of what is now the oldest continually operating military airfield, and my respect for the gentleman who started the museum, Col. Bob Stone, back in 1975, and my wish to stay busy after retirement,” he said.
Visiting the museum
The public is welcome from noon to 4:30 p.m. on weekends from April 2-Oct. 30, as well as on Fourth of July and Memorial Day. Due to traffic, the museum will be closed during the 2011 Selfridge Air Show Aug. 20-21. The museum is also open throughout the year by appointment, such as those made for group tours.
The admission fee is $4 per guest ages 13 and up, $3 for children between 4 and 12 and a minimum donation of $25 for all appointment tours.
Visitors must drive to the military base's main gate at M-59 and Jefferson for a pass to enter the restricted area. Guests without a valid government identification card must register for a visitor’s pass at the base visitor center north of the main gate or at the main gate itself. A current and valid driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of vehicular insurance will be required to obtain a visitor's pass.
Further information about the Selfridge Military Air Museum and Air Park can be found at www.selfridgeairmuseum.org or at 586-239-5035.