Vintage Aviation Museum Prepares to Take Wing


Restoration work being preformed on B-17E “Desert Rat”

There is a new Warbird museum on the block.  The Vintage Aviation Museum may be young in age but not in ambition.  Sean O’Brien is the founder and president of the Vintage Aviation Museum.  Mr. O’Brien has worked in multiple museums, including flying on tour with a B-17.  These experiences have not only prepared him to start his own museum but have also been the driving force behind the new opening.  “I got to a point where I realized that  in order to fulfill my passion and vision for vintage aircraft, warbirds, and all of the history that surrounds them I needed to start my own museum” says Mr. O’Brien. He began planning the Vintage Aviation Museum in 2014, and launched it in January 2016.  Since opening the doors, Mr. O’Brien says, “…the response has been overwhelming”.  

The Vintage Aviation Museum is busy at work.  The museum will plans to move its headquarters to Salt Lake City, Utah hopefully in 2017 when its museum facilities are completed.  The new facility will include state-of -art restoration facilities and museum spaces to be used for educational purposes.


B-17E 41-2595 “Desert Rat”

The Vintage Aviation Museum joined forces with the Desert Rat B-17E Restoration Team, that has been working to restore B-17E 41-2595 since it was discovered in Maine decaying in a scrapyard in the 1980’s.  Mr. O’Brien has been following the B-17Es progress for a number of years and when he was in a position to help, decided to join forces with the Desert Rat team to complete the restoration sooner.  The time table for the B-17E Desert Rat’s completion is 3 to 5 years, however it is dependent on funding.  When the VAM facilities are completed in 2017, part of Desert Rat will be moved to Salt Lake City, Utah for restoration, while the remainder of the plane will stay in Marengo, Illinois to be completed.  Once Desert Rat’s restoration is completed, the entire airframe will be transported to Salt Lake City for final assembly.  After completion “Desert Rat” will be on tour across the United States as a flying museum and will be based out of Salt Lake City, Utah.


Boeing B-17C Flying Fortress

In addition, the Vintage Aviation Museum and Desert Rat teams are joining forces to build an airworthy B-17C.   The B-17C build is in its early stages, parts are beginning to be collected.  The pace will not increase on the B-17C build until either the museum’s volunteer force increases or Desert Rat is returned back to flying condition.  Although building a B-17 can be done more quickly than restoring one, the thousands of rivets incorporated into the airframe make construction time consuming.  Once the B-17C is completed it will join B-17E “Desert Rat” on tour.

Mr. O’Brien thinks that flying these aircraft is necessary, “…so that people can see them operate in their natural element”.  VAM restoration and museum facilities will be open to the public to be used as an educational tool and share the stories behind their planes.  Mr. O’Brien believes, “It’s not just about the planes, it is also about the factory workers, the people that gave up their time to help out…” with the war effort.  The Vintage Aviation Museum wants to give people the opportunity to learn history first hand from the veterans that experienced it.


Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress

“We try to do things where we are a little outside of the box, we don’t want to be like everyone else…we want to create our own path… and be able to reach people not just local to the museum but across the country”, says museum president Mr. O’Brien.  An example of this being the “Night With Dick Cole” event that the museum hosted.  Unlike other events, VAM kept the event to a group of 100 people in order to allow people to personally interact with Mr. Cole, the last surviving Dolittle Raider and have their questions answered from a man who is walking and talking history.

Keep your eyes open for the Vintage Aviation Museum’s future projects, which include:

PV2 Harpoon D-Day C-47 F9F Panther
BT-13 Valiant A-26 Invader B-25D Mitchell
TBF Avenger

Interested in donating to or volunteering to  restore the B-17C and B-17E “Desert Rat” to flying condition? Contact the Vintage Aviation Museum and check out their Facebook Page

Photo Credit:

-Vintage Aviation Museum

-Desert Rat Restoration Team


The Last Liberator Film Project

b-24cf“This is not simply the story of the B-24 Liberator, but the story of the men and women who designed, built, maintained and flew it. If is the story of a Nation united, allies focused and determined. It is the story of thousands of individuals who played their parts in defeating an enemy.  Its story is but one powerful symbol that illustrates the story of victory”

“The Collings Foundation, a non-profit, Educational Foundation (501c-3) has recovered and restored many of the true landmark aircraft that built the world aviation history, in order to meet its mission of organizing and supporting living history events that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation.

Included in their collection is the world’s only flying B-24J , which continues soaring through its native skies as part of the annual Wings of Freedom Tour with its sister ship, the B-17 Flying Fortress.

Now, with a mission of capturing the recollections of the real people behind the machines, the Collings Foundation, in conjunction with Inversion Films and Inland Sea Productions is proud to present The Last Liberator a one-of-a-kind story of World War II as told through the eyes of veterans who were responsible for building and flying the Liberator. The foundation and the producers are determined to capture their story in their own words and marry those memories to the most powerful medium on the planet, the giant screen theater, creating a legacy that will engage all Americans in remembering, learning and honoring.  It will indelibly sear their lessons in the archives of American heroism.

When executed properly, with accuracy and authenticity as the overriding mission, the marriage of the highest caliber information with the state-of the art tools of entertainment deliver a powerful and relevant tool in education. The Last Liberator is an edutainment program, designed to reach today’s audiences on multiple levels, many times, in an accurate and lasting manner. It will be a catalyst for ongoing learning and leave an indelible mark on the viewer.”

To help the make this project successful, make a tax deductible donation to the Collings Foundation  and for more information visit The Last Liberator.

Photo Credit: Collings Foundation

Information Credit: Collings Foundation/ The Last Liberator

A Great Tribute to the B-17 Flying Fortress and Her Crews

Miss Liberty Belle B-17G On The Move


“Miss Liberty Belle” B-17G on outdoor display at the Grissom Air Museum in Peru, Indiana. Photo Credit: Django Studios

B-17G “Miss Liberty Belle” has been on outdoor display at the Grissom Air Museum in Indiana since 1961.  It will soon be moved indoors to the Museum of Aviation in Georgia.  The B-17 is scheduled to be moved in August 2015.  The restoration will be carried out while the aircraft is on display, similar to the restoration of B-17G  “City of Savannah” at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Savannah, Georgia.


B-17G “Miss Liberty Belle” nose art. Photo Credit: John Weeks

How You Can Help:

The Museum of Aviation has started a fundraising effort in order to help with the $70,000 relocation cost and the complete restoration of “Miss Liberty Belle” to static display. Click here to donate.

Credit: Aero Vintage Books