June 15, 2014

Editorial: Building toward a bright future

The new Plattsburgh Air Force Base Museum drew between 400 and 500 visitors its first day, a promising sign of future success.

The museum is off to a good start, with the opportunity to grow into another history stalwart that will strengthen tourism in our region.

The new facility was dreamed up by former Plattsburgh City Clerk Keith Herkalo, who has been involved for years in local history-related projects through the Battle of Plattsburgh Association and as an author and re-enactor.

His vision was spurred by decades of queries from visitors wondering where the museum to PAFB could be found.

It made perfect sense to develop one, of course, because the Air Force’s 40-year presence in Plattsburgh was predominant and far-reaching.

It wasn’t just the sight and sound of planes rumbling overhead; there was also the huge economic and lifestyle impact of having thousands of military personnel and civilians living and working there and mixing with the community.

Helped by a $3,375 grant, the new museum devotes a great deal of space to the Atlas missile sites around the North Country, a fascinating sideline to the Air Base that many people didn’t even know about.

People who visit the museum will also be interested in the case displaying models of the types of planes that flew onto and off Plattsburgh’s famously long runway.

They will also enjoy the uniforms on display, a pilot’s helmet, practice bomb and flight-check books. There’s plenty to read about at the museum, as well.

But there is also room — figuratively and literally — for expansion.

Though the building is small, it appears the first room you walk into is underused. Right now, it features poster boards perched on easels, showing a PAFB timeline. The boards could move onto the walls, providing more room for floor displays.

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