Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Hawthorne Aviation Museum Takes Off

by Deleted User (writer), Los Angeles, August 19, 2006

At the intersection of Prairie St. and 120th in Hawthorne City, California, volunteers for The Western Museum of Aviation are preparing for takeoff. The museum is headed towards Torrance’s Flite Park, where countless aeronautic models and drawing planes will once again color empty walls. A few that are currently being packed into cardboard boxes include a Northrop World War II single-engine seaplane built in 1940 and a Wright GR-1820-G205 jet aircraft engine.

The move comes at a time when rents are rising for the city, and in a world where non-profit organizations like The Western Museum of Aviation bear the brunt. Their new location in Torrance will be much smaller – downsized from 7,500 to 4,000 square feet – and, due to a lack of available room, planes such as the legendary DC-3 airliner will need to be stored elsewhere.

The city has already leased out the space to a real estate development company. They intend to convert the museum into a business-jet station that will benefit from the non-intrusive location of the city and key access to major freeways. Although the city council hopes that the new establishment will bring in a more lucrative business project, is additive cacophony from snazzy jets really going to do any good for the Hawthorne community itself?

Marty Dodell, the Vice President of the museum, recalls how the museum served an important role for Hawthorne’s youth community; a role that it can no longer fulfill. For years, he helped to run an educational program designed for 4th and 5th grade students that featured tours of various aircrafts, discussions about the history of aviation, and hands-on experimentation with control panels and supersonic jets from Norway. With the goal to open students’ eyes to an exciting vocational opportunity that they might have otherwise never been exposed to, Dodell does justice to his commitment to “keep the message going that there are a lot of opportunities for kids if they stay in school.”

When the museum was forced to close its doors to the public on June 26, 2006, it lost its educational program and the important, positive message it brought to so many young kids. Although the museum director,Cindy Macha-Skjonsby, has stated that she has high hopes for re-implementing a similar program in Torrance, nothing has been officially confirmed as of yet.

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