Chicagoland's Only Aviation Museum

Classic Flight: Museum and Airport News

Notice: this article has been reproduced as originally published.  

Wild About Wildcats

By Vic Caricato

As I'm sure everyone is aware, Air Classics Museum has received a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat from El Toro California, in conjunction with the US Navy and the city of Chicago, to restore and highlight the historic flight of Lt. Edward "Butch" O'Hare. Butch O'Hare single handedly shot down five Japanese "Betty" bombers and saved the U.S.S. Lexington in the early part of World War II. He was the first recipient of the medal of honor in World War II at a time when the US desperately needed a hero. Lt. O'Hare was a hero in the truest sense.

F4F-3 Wildcat in Flight

With a generous contribution from the McDonald's Corporation of $100,000, Air Classics Museum has been charged with the responsibility of overseeing and designing an appropriate monument to be displayed in terminal two at O'Hare International Airport. This will undoubtedly be viewed by millions of people going through the Airport each year. This will not just be a life size memorial to "Butch" but also a positive promotion for Air Classics Museum. This can and should be a "Stepping Stone" Project for other high profile projects which we as a group can participate in the future. Financial support for such projects go to those organizations which have proven themselves and it's Air Classics Museum's goal to be considered one of the few organizations in the country which can rise to the challenge of "Preserving the Dream".

Rich Long, Director of Operations of Air Classics, is the project coordinator for the O'Hare Project and will guide a group of volunteers to work on the number of details that need to be completed before the Wildcat is ultimately placed in terminal two. Rich has a model of the position of the project and I would encourage all who are interested to take a look. Other key personnel working on this project are Emil Moreno, Buzz Stahmer, Larry Matt and myself.

Rod Kath, President of Air Classics, has been working very hard behind the scenes to make sure that all the endless details associated with a project of this size is completed correctly and professionally. This is not only good business, but will ultimately show everyone that Air Classics Museum is a 1st class operation.

The basic display has been contracted out to "Models & Props", a professional display contractor. The display of an aircraft carrier deck must be put together on-site around the aircraft. Informational kiosks as well as other displays are being built to tell the story of Butch O'Hare's historic flight.

Painting the Aircraft with the proper colors, lettering, etc. is essential and has been thoroughly researched and documented. The painting is being done by Russ Scholl an Air Classics Museum member and a professional painter. Russ is doing a fantastic job on repainting the National Insignia to it's proper size as well as giving a realistic "Flying" paint job as opposed to the factory fresh aircraft look. The image of a fighter returning to it's aircraft carrier after a mission will be dramatic and impressive.

As volunteers for Air Classics Museum, we are in the unique position to participate in what will be a National recognized exhibit. As deadlines and key elements of this Project begin to happen, the call for your support and help may be needed. Please be part of the excitement. Even if we all cannot be physically working on the plane, communicating about this Project to visitors, friends and guests of the Museum will help support this endeavor. So lets get excited! Talk about it! Being Positive is Contagious and lets get:

Wild about our Wildcat!


Air Classics Museum of Aviation
43W624 US Route 30
Sugar Grove, IL 60554
Phone: (630) 466-0888

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