In today’s stressful economy, you might wonder how the volunteer warbird restoration groups are faring as the country keeps tightening its belts. Well, most continue to live on donations of both money and time, with an odd grant here and there, just as they have been doing for decades.
A Fort Worth, Texas-based foundation called Greatest Generation Aircraft recently tried something else: a charity auction. Created to benefit its restoration and maintenance efforts of the North American B-25 Bomber “Pacific Prowler,” the Douglas C-47 “Southern Cross,” and the Douglas A-26K “Special Kay,” the event was held earlier this month in GGA’s hangar at Fort Worth Meacham International Airport (better known as Meacham Field).
While I didn’t have a chance to visit, my good friend and fellow aviation blogger and photographer Dan Linn did, so please visit his wonderful blog, Another Time, for a great review of the auction here. Warning: if you’re a warbird buff, Dan’s prose and photos will make you kick yourself for missing it!
I think GGA is on to something here that could and should be duplicated by every group like it. A charity auction is a good way to clean house and make a little money on the side, of course, but it also exposes those demanding resto efforts to a wider audience. After all, auctions more often attract a wider net than a warbird open house.
Beside the extra funds, such an event can be used a recruiting tool, too, if necessary. There will always be a need for folks with technical and non-technical skills alike, so it’s a chance to put the group’s best foot forward to show what it takes to get these historic planes on display or in the air.
If you spent some time at the GGA homepage, you’ll have noticed the group also sponsors gun and militaria shows to raise money, too. That’s the kind of innovative thinking many organizations may need if they want to stick around for years to come. It’ll take some experimentation to see what works best, but the days of getting funds the old-fashioned way are but a distant memory.
Photo by Greatest Generation Aircraft