Connecticut Air and Space Center

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Connecticut Air and Space Center
Connecticut Air and Space Center is located in Connecticut
Connecticut Air and Space Center
Stratford, Connecticut, USA
Established 1998
Location 15 Sniffens Lane, Stratford, Connecticut, United States
Coordinates 41°10′12″N 73°07′14″W / 41.170119°N 73.120509°W / 41.170119; -73.120509
Type Private: aerospace
Director Andrew King
Website ctairandspace.org

The Connecticut Air and Space Center is an non-profit Air Museum that displays vintage aircraft, memorabilia, and artifacts that pertain to Connecticut, both inside and out. The museum's motto is "Honor, Preserve, Educate". Honoring the founders, workers, and companies from Connecticut. Preserving the vehicles and artifacts they used. And Educating this generation and the next about this history. Founded by George Gunther in 1998 after the closing of the Stratford Army Engine Plant, in Stratford, Connecticut. Currently the Connecticut Air and Space Center occupies buildings 6 and 53 at the former Stratford Army Engine Plant complex. The museum is one of only a handful throughout the country to be located in a portion of an original WWII aircraft factory.[1]

History[edit]

The Army Engine Plant/Stratford (AEP/S) property is located at 550 South Main Street in Stratford, Connecticut. The 126-acre AEP/S property is occupied by a U.S. government-owned, contractor-operated manufacturing facility comprising numerous manufacturing buildings. The operator was Textron Lycoming, a Division of AVCO Corporation, a contractor to the U.S. Army Aviation Systems Command. The AEP/S property is bordered by industrial properties to the north; the Housatonic River to the east; a marsh which was a former landfill, to the south; and Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport to the west.

Prior to 1927, the site was farmland. The property was developed in 1927 for Sikorsky Aircraft. In 1939, one of the world's first successful commercial helicopters, the Sikorsky VS-300,[2] was developed in Stratford by Igor Sikorsky and flown at his plant.[3] The Chance Vought Aircraft company designed and constructed the Vought F4U Corsair as well as several other seaplanes and fighters until they moved in 1949. The Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Division in Stratford built a total of 7,829 F4U fighters and these planes saw extensive combat in the Pacific Theatre of operations during World War II, and played a supporting role in the Korean War.[4] The Lycoming company produced Wright radial engines at the site and after World War II, the plant was converted to produce turbines. The site was then owned by the Air Force through 1976. Ownership was transferred to the U.S. Army in 1976. Because of the Base Realignment and Closure actions of the United States Department of Defense, closure of the plant was recommended in July 1995. The plant closed in October 1998.[5] [6] The Connecticut Air and Space Center currently occupies the research and design building where all design research was performed during the late 1930s.

Location[edit]

The Connecticut Air and Space Center features displays and archives pertaining to the history of the Stratford Army Engine Plant. There are currently 14 aircraft on display and 8 engines that were built at the plant. The site sits on 8 acres and consists of 6 buildings, of which only 2 are operational. The site sits directly across Main Street from the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport in the town of Stratford, CT.

Restorations[edit]

There currently four major restorations in progress. There are a pair of Sikorsky S-52 helicopters, one that is a Korean War (H05S) veteran and another Civilian model (S-52). The S-52, owned by the USMC, is currently being reassembled for display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The museums own H05S, while still missing several major components, has progressed to a point it can be on its landing gear. The unique one of a kind Sikorsky S-60 prototype is undergoing a major restoration, with the cockpit section to be complete in 2013.

The museum has been entrusted by the City of Bridgeport with the restoration of the former gate guard at the Sikorsky Memorial Airport the much, locally, discussed Goodyear FG1-D Corsair. Work began in 2008 and the plane is currently at the halfway point with reassemble beginning in the fall of 2012. The museum has stated that they hope to have the project nearing completion by 2015.[7]

Restrictions on Entry[edit]

The Connecticut Air and Space Center opened in 1998 to the public but with one major restriction. Since the site is controlled by the federal government, visitors must be over 18 years of age and attend a safety briefing before entering the gate.

Currently the Connecticut Air and Space Center is open to the public Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays from 9am to 2pm.

Current Exhibits[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]