PV-1 Ventura Donated to new Museum

Discussion in 'Warbird Displays' started by syscom3, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

    Jun 4, 2005
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Orange County, CA
    WWII-era bomber donated to Great Park

    GATEWAY TO TIMES GONE BY: Sam Allevato of the Great Park Design Studio stands in the doorway of a hangar at the old El Toro Marine base that will house an aviation museum expected to be home to dozens of historic aircraft and memorabilia.
    A planned O.C. museum will honor El Toro's history, designers say. A 1943 Lockheed PV-1 Ventura is the first acquisition.
    By Tony Barboza, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    In years past, building a central park was about creating an escape from urban life with little nod to what it was replacing.

    But the designers of the Orange County Great Park, which is being built on 1,347 acres of the former El Toro Marine Corps base, are taking a new approach, embracing the site's military past rather than bulldozing it.

    In one such move, the park's board today plans to accept the donation of a World War II-era patrol plane and bomber as the first artifact for an aviation museum expected to feature dozens of historic aircraft and memorabilia.

    Great Park board member Bill Kogerman, a retired Marine colonel who flew fighter jets at the base in the 1960s and '70s, said the 1943 Lockheed PV-1 Ventura was "a fairly old and rare acquisition."

    The model was used for night flights during World War II, stopping at El Toro on its way to the fighting in the Pacific. It is unclear if this particular plane landed at El Toro.

    It is at an airfield in New Orleans after being so severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina that its owner gave it to an insurance company.

    Park officials jumped at the opportunity to get the plane, calling it a modest first step toward the museum. But it also is a sign of an emerging focus of the Great Park project: preserving the base's history while undertaking one of the nation's largest public works projects.

    "We want to speak to the fact that the military use of the site was actually what kept it from development and made it available," said Ken Smith, the park's landscape architect. "In the end, the park will be richer because people will see interesting ways of adapting historic structures and reusing them."

    Central to the park's design is a 1 3/4 -mile-long historical timeline built atop one of the base's original taxiways. Designers also are storing base memorabilia and colorful squadron murals for use in park buildings and museums.

    Hangars are slated for restoration as a visitors center and museum site, and a control tower may be converted into a nature center, Smith said.

    Thick slabs of runway concrete, dubbed "El Toro stone" by designers, will become stepping stones on trails. Much of the 600 acres of pavement on the base will be ground up and used for landscaping.

    Smith said he also is working to preserve two water towers, which could be used to catch rainwater and irrigate some of the 150 acres of citrus trees planned for the park.

    The Great Park also has funded an oral history project in which Cal State Fullerton students have begun creating a repository of interviews with El Toro veterans.

    Another early manifestation of that dedication to history has been the park's search for airplanes and helicopters with a connection to the Marine base.

    Tom O'Hara, curator of the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, was hired as the Great Park's aviation consultant, and now scouts potential acquisitions throughout the country via e-mail and phone.

    Early this month, he flew to an airfield outside New Orleans to see the Lockheed PV-1 Ventura. The 65-year-old plane had sustained major hurricane damage. It was missing a door and tires, and it had a hole in one of its wings. But the craft was a find because it is one of only 3,000 made, O'Hara said.

    The plane is likely to be the first of many since the park board has set aside $500,000 to start and maintain an aircraft collection. Park designers and architects across the country point to places such as the Great Park as part of a trend to acknowledge the historic background of public places.

    Most urban parks in the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as New York's Central Park, aimed to provide escape from overcrowded urban life, at times razing poor neighborhoods and leaving little sign of them. In contrast, contemporary parks have intentionally retained historical elements, reusing them in new and innovative ways.

    A runway at Crissy Field, a 100-acre former Army airstrip near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco that reopened as a park in 2001, is now a popular kite-flying spot. An Army photography lab there has been converted into an educational center.

    "The tide has really turned from the idea that a park is a blank piece of paper that you do whatever you want on," said Kristina Hill, director of the landscape architecture program at the University of Virginia. "We've realized that people want a greater connection to the past."

    In procuring the Great Park's first airplane, O'Hara, the aviation consultant, spared no attention to detail.

    The wings and fuselage will be disassembled and loaded onto two wide-load trucks, then driven to Orange County as early as next month, where the plane will be reassembled and restored at the base at a cost of $70,000.

    One key adjustment will be trading its light-blue paint job for olive drab.

    "The color scheme in those days was not very exotic," O'Hara said. "We want it to be historically accurate."
  2. wilbur1

    wilbur1 Active Member

    Nov 4, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Pretty cool, cant wait to go check it out:D
  3. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
    Staff Member Moderator

    Jul 10, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    R E T I R E D !!
    Virginia Beach, Va.
    That's good.... I wish them luck finding and acquiring vintage aircraft....

  4. dchassett

    dchassett New Member

    Mar 4, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:

    You may have already gotten this message, I wasn't actually sure if it went through. My Dad and I are very interested in seeing the PV you are getting.

    My dad Flew the PV-1 in the Pacific and has many great stories. The plane he ditched in the Pacific has been found and we have great video of it. You can read dad's story at Rob Lalumiere. Scroll down to the picture of the PV and click on the story link. Let me know when your PV is going to arrive, my dad 86 years old would love to see it.

  5. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Sep 17, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    $500,000 to start building a collection of old airplanes is not very much when you price out what they go for. I read that they plane to have a restoration hangar. Do you know if they plan on making the aircraft flyable, or just for static display?

Share This Page