My wife and I recently returned from a trip to upstate New York and on our way home we stopped at the New England Air Museum. It is a gem of a museum nestled in the tranquil woodlands next to the Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Back in 1969 it was called the Bradley Air Museum, but on October 3, 1979 the museum was struck by a tornado and almost completely destroyed. The museum closed and was reopened in 1981. It was in 1984 that it became the New England Air Museum (NEAM). It is owned and operated by the Connecticut Aeronautical Historical Association.
The museum houses a diverse assortment of aircraft in its collection, both inside and on the grounds outside. They have both a military and civilian aircraft sections with over 125 aircraft on display. The centerpiece of the museum is the Boeing B-29 bomber ‘Jack Hack’. In addition to ‘Jack Hack’, they also have a Lockheed Electra which is similar to the one flown by Amelia Earhart in her attempt to fly around the world. Among the aircraft on the outside grounds is the Burnelli CBY-3 Loadmaster. Its fuselage, when seen from the side was in the shape of a wing and is one of the last one known to exist. It is anticipated that the museum will restore it at some point in time. The B-29 was also restored by the museum in their restoration hangar.
On Sundays, the museum has what they call ‘Open Cockpit Sunday’ in which patrons are allowed to actually climb into the cockpits of a variety of aircraft. This is one of the museum’s most popular events. Other events include lectures and presentations given buy people in the aviation business. Numerous educational workshops and fun activities are also scheduled throughout the year. Interactive and static displays are placed throughout the museum along with many historical artifacts. Connecticut based aviation companies such as Sikorsky, Kaman, Vought, Hamilton Standard, and Pratt & Whitney are highlighted with aircraft (fixed-wing and rotary), engines, and other various equipment. They also feature WWI and lighter-than-air craft era.
Functions such as conferences, dinners, school field trips, and birthday parties can be held at the museum. Memberships with discounted admissions and gift shop discounts are available for purchase on site, by mail, or though the internet. The gift shop also has an array of clothing, books, airplane models, games, and various other aviation themed novelties available. There is also a small dining area and free parking. They are open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. They are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Please note that if you visit in the summer months the hangar sections are not air conditioned. You can visit their website at: www.neam.org