Nov 11, 2015
Chris Black hoisted his 4-year-old son Connor on top of his shoulders Wednesday so the boy could get a better look at an airplane straight out of the pages of military history books.
The Northrop Grumman OV-1B Mohawk they were looking at with wide eyes had just touched down at Jacksonville’s Craig Airfield (sic) after a Veterans Day flight from Atlanta.
Connor was one of the first children to get a close-up look at the aircraft used in Vietnam and Desert Storm but plenty more will get a chance to admire the piece of aviation history when it becomes part of the U.S. Military Air Power Museum in Jacksonville.
The museum is set to open in late 2016 and will be located in the area previously occupied by the Army National Guard at the airfield off St. Johns Bluff Road.
“I see about 50 planes a day but when I see something like this it’s awesome,” Black said of the Mohawk, which has two seats and twin turbo propellers.
It was used for light attack and surveillance and is the only flying, functional OV-1B Mohawk in existence.
Black is retired from the Navy and works for a company at Jacksonville International Airport where he fuels private planes every day.
Connor tags along and watches his dad work with the planes but there aren’t many children who grow up with that kind of opportunity, Black said.
That’s one of the reasons the museum is being created.
Bill Mosely is the museum’s director and he said area children will be able to visit and get the chance to climb into the cockpits of some of the planes for a truly hands-on experience.
The goal is to have five or six working, historic military aircraft at the facility with events and field trips on a regular basis.
Mosely is a retired Navy chief and he has been transporting aircraft throughout the country for years.
He disassembles various types of planes, loads them onto tractor-trailers and puts them back together in another part of the country.
The planes are usually taken to museums and Mosely quickly realized there are a lot smaller towns than Jacksonville with much more prominent aviation displays.
“Jacksonville is big,” Mosely said. “ We’ve got all kinds of military here and we don’t have a museum.”
Now he’s setting out to change that.
The museum still needs to raise about $50,000 to fulfill Mosely’s dream and there are several ideas to obtain that goal.
Bill Mosely’s wife, Jenny Mosely, is in charge of public affairs for the museum and she said she’s planning to have at least one event every month until the museum opens.
She talked about having “power hours” where veterans will meet at various restaurants on different sides of town to talk about their military memories.
The talks will be recorded and shown at the museum.
“Can you imagine bringing your grandchildren here and showing them a video of your father?” she asked.
She talked about how older military heroes are dying and their stories need to be preserved for future generations.
“Once they’re [veterans] gone, those stories are gone,” Jenny Mosely said.
She also plans to have fly-in fundraisers at the facility and eventually add an aviation-themed restaurant to the museum.
“This area of town needs to be revitalized,” she said of the site near Regency.
She envisions airplane wings used as tables with various parts on the walls.
Ed Dulik, 68, is part of the military community in Jacksonville.
He retired from the Navy and owns a Piper Malibu Mirage — a single-propeller passenger plane capable of flying to Chicago from Jacksonville without stopping — that he keeps in a hangar near the spot where the museum will be.
Dulik was in the crowd Wednesday admiring the Mohawk and said a museum would be a great way to get area youth interested in flying.
“You never know what is going to give them the hook,” he said.
When Dulik was 12 years old in New Jersey he was invited to fly in a friend’s plane one afternoon and from that day on he knew he wanted a career in aviation.
The Moselys are hoping their museum will have the same inspiration for children.
Joe Daraskevich: (904) 359-4308