Street Smart Chicago

Because They’re Airplanes: Exploring an enduring fascination, this time found on a farm

Chicago History, Sugar Grove No Comments »

Henry “Hank” Winkler (yes, that’s his real name), says that most people discover Sugar Grove’s Air Classics Museum by chance. This is certainly understandable. A slew of warplanes locked up behind a metal fence in the middle of seemingly endless farmland is not an easy site to miss.

Now in its twentieth year and still run entirely on a volunteer basis, the museum offers a diverse and dedicated clientele an extensive look at aviation history.

The planes are the main attraction. Replicas donated by locals and retired aircraft acquired through the military, including a Bell UH-1H chopper used regularly in vertical envelopment operations in Vietnam, greet visitors. Other highlights of the collection include the massive restored Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat—relocated from O’Hare—and the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom with a menacing skull painted on its tail.

Two additional buildings feature sizeable collections of military garb and model planes donated by the families of aviation enthusiasts. A barn plastered with Polish Air Force paraphernalia houses two massive jet engines, one of which powered a B-52 bomber. Read the rest of this entry »