Museum to celebrate 25th anniversary

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78 ABW/PA
On Nov. 9, 1984, a group of people cut the ribbon to open the first building of the Museum of Aviation. 

One person in the crowd at that ceremony was Ken Emery. He was a captain stationed at Robins when he joined the cause of trying to bring an aviation museum here. 
He never dreamed what the museum would become in just 25 years. 

"Nobody envisioned that it would be what it is today," said Emery, who retired from the Air Force in 2004 and three years later became director of the museum. "Look at how we've grown. We couldn't have done that if it was not something special." 

On Friday the museum will hold its biggest anniversary celebration as it commemorates 25 years of operation. The event will include a dinner, a performance by the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, and guest of honor Amanda Wright Lane. She is the grand niece of Wilbur and Orville Wright, the fathers of manned flight. She works to raise awareness for two national parks that celebrate the Wright Brothers. 

Tickets are $45 and reservations can be made by contacting Mary Lynn Harrison at 923-6600. Reservations must be made by Wednesday. The event starts at 6 p.m. with a reception in the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame Exhibit Area followed by the dinner and program to start at 7 p.m. 

According to a museum release, its history dates back to 1978 when Guy Stone, a World War I veteran living in the area, agreed to donate his large collection of aviation memorabilia toward the creation of a museum. 

A committee at Robins was formed to explore the idea and on July 8, 1980, the Air Force approved the establishment of a museum at the base. A committee of base and community supporters began meeting and working toward the construction of a museum. 

Emery searched nationwide to find over 30 aircraft, helicopters and missiles for the initial museum collection. The 1984 ribbon-cutting was for the Heritage Building, which was the first part of a 3-phase development plan. The first full year of operation drew 60,000 visitors. 

Today the museum has four exhibit buildings, including the new World War II building. Last year the museum drew over 650,000 visitors last year.