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Peterson Air and Space Museum: Maintaining heritage

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Dave Austin, a Peterson museum volunteer and retired chief master sergeant, provides a tour of the museum's EC-121 “Warning Star” radar aircraft to a group of Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from Air Academy High School. Austin is a former crew member on EC-121s with duty as an airborne radar systems operator. (U.S. Air Force photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Dave Austin, a Peterson museum volunteer and retired chief master sergeant, provides a tour of the museum's EC-121 “Warning Star” radar aircraft to a group of Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from Air Academy High School. Austin is a former crew member on EC-121s with duty as an airborne radar systems operator. (U.S. Air Force photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Edward J. Peterson Air and Space Museum located in Peterson’s historic district contains artifacts related to the history of Team Pete, but it would not be possible without help from the Peterson Air and Space Museum Foundation. The Foundation volunteers are a critical component to the daily operation of the museum and the donations raised help maintain and provide improvements to the facilities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Golembesky)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Edward J. Peterson Air and Space Museum located in Peterson’s historic district contains artifacts related to the history of Team Pete, but it would not be possible without help from the Peterson Air and Space Museum Foundation. The Foundation volunteers are a critical component to the daily operation of the museum and the donations raised help maintain and provide improvements to the facilities. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Golembesky)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Ron Solomon, a Peterson museum volunteer docent, explains the workings of the museum's Missile Procedures Trainer exhibit to a group of Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from Air Academy High School. The MPT was used by the Air Force to train and evaluate missile launch control center crews supporting the "Peacekeeper" ICBM. (U.S. Air Force photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Ron Solomon, a Peterson museum volunteer docent, explains the workings of the museum's Missile Procedures Trainer exhibit to a group of Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from Air Academy High School. The MPT was used by the Air Force to train and evaluate missile launch control center crews supporting the "Peacekeeper" ICBM. (U.S. Air Force photo)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Peterson museum provides a chance to see and learn about our history at Peterson AFB in a historical setting, with buildings dating back to the origins of the Colorado Springs airport. But that story-telling would not be possible without the support of volunteers.

The Edward J. Peterson Air and Space Museum displays many different types of airframes from the Air Force's aviation history, but without the support and dedication of the volunteers, keeping the doors open for visitors to enjoy these facilities would not be possible.

"The Air Force authorizes heritage activities to have a supporting organization - a private entity - to operate on base and support the museum. They do not manage the museum, but they help to support it through fundraising and volunteer work," said Jeffrey Nash, Peterson Air and Space Museum assistant director.

The Peterson Air and Space Museum Foundation is organized for those educational, civil, scientific and patriotic purposes that will preserve and exhibit the unique heritage in air and space flight and operations, which are associated with Peterson Air Force Base and the U.S. Air Force.

"The Foundation helps raise funds for projects, improvements and operating costs," said James Henderson, Peterson Air and Space Museum Foundation secretary and museum volunteer. "Donations, gift shop sales, memberships and the solicitation of grants are our primary means to raise funds for the museum. We are currently getting ready to launch a campaign to help renovate the Broadmoor Hangar here in the Peterson historic district. This is looking to be a large project that will cost more than $2 million and is one of the long-term goals we are working toward."

Without the Foundation, many of the quality-of-life projects would just not be possible to maintain.

"The 21st Space Wing provides a budget to support heritage activities assigned to the installation, but those funds are limited," said Nash.

The volunteers are more than fundraising - they are also there to provide a smile and warm welcome to the museum.

"The foundation also supports our volunteer force here at the museum, there is really no way we could keep the doors open without our dedicated volunteers that do a lot of the day-to-day stuff around here, like providing tours and helping us maintain the facilities," said Nash.

Keeping the Peterson Air and Space Museum up and running is a team effort, and the museum is always looking for more volunteers.

"Not every base is lucky enough to have a field museum. There are only 12 in the Air Force," said Gail Whalen, Peterson Air and Space Museum director. "I think what makes us even more fortunate than the others is that many of our volunteers have been part of the Air Defense Command, NORAD and AFSPC missions. They can relate to our visitors because they've been part of the history we're preserving. We have a truly outstanding volunteer corps."

"If anyone is interested in volunteering at the museum, please contact us through the website. We are always in need of volunteers," said Nash.

For information about the Edward J. Peterson Air and Space Museum and the Peterson Air and Space Museum Foundation, go to http://petemuseum.org/.

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