What can I say about a Staggerwing that hasn't already been said. The airplane oozes 1930's Art Deco. It flies better than it looks, which really says it all.
I typically dont like to talk on the website about things "we are going to do". I guess its a personal thing. As a kid, my folks weren't much interested in talk, but more about what you have done, or currently working to achieve. I'll break the mold here. It might be time to go out on a limb after all, because futures are what we do.
The Mission of the Museum isn't to build toys, its to build futures of the youngsters who have an interest in Aviation. That's pretty well it, plain and simple. This whole process never has been about anything other than shining a spotlight on them... a mentoring tailwind as it were. As far as the airplane...well, it's a tool. Beech built it for a purpose. Its much older than me, and I promise, it won't be sitting in the corner. Over its 77 year lifespan, it's had more pilots than Carter has liver pills. We are all just a blip on this airplanes radar. For it to fit in our operation, it has to fly, inspire, and serve. We've got a few well qualified pilots that feel the same way about mentoring, so It'll be out and about with and without me, and hopefully with a kid in the right seat, and eventually the left.
A quick story... I was crop dusting in central California in the mid 80's, and had a Taylorcraft that I would teach in. One afternoon, I flew to Shafter (or Bakersfield, I cant remember at this point) California with a student. Like any good airport bums, when we arrived we went walking around the airport peeking in hangars. I saw the hangar open, with a guy sitting in front of the famous Reno Unlimited race plane "Rare Bear", a highly modified WWII Grumman Bearcat fighter. Like moths to a flame, we approached the hangar, salivating. The man in the chair was none other than Lyle Shelton, the Pilot/Owner, and a legend among pilots. Now "airport bum edicate" forbids the trespasser (us), from just walking up to a cool airplane owner (Lyle) without some form of voice contact, and given the fact that he was sitting on the crown jewel of all airplanes, I didn't expect the invite to come from him. I was wrong. He yelled "HI" ... we sheepishly approached. He was cordial, friendly and kind. We talked at legnth, but like an adolescent boy in a room full of supermodels, it has hard for me to divide my attention between Lyle and the airplane. He noticed my less than casual glances at the plane and said - "Go look at it... crawl all over it, Hell, they made the thing to be shot at, your not going to hurt it". And so we did.
Its got to be the same way with the Staggerwing. We have to show the same hospitality that Lyle did. It wasn't about him, it was about the airplane and the people. That afternoon changed me.
I've got some details to work out, (probably the most daunting is the expense), Just the insurance is brutal. but the intent at this point is to at least give the Museum kids dual in it, check off some bucket list items for a few folks, and spread some smiles. What I'm certain of is that having this in the museum can't be just be a toy. It has to continue the mission of inspiration, and we are working hard to make that happen. It might well be that the numbers just can't jive with the intended purpose... but I've got some tremendously creative people to draw from, a few tricks up my sleeve, and I think with a little head scratching, I'm hoping we can make her stay.