I recently had the great pleasure of recently visiting the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum in Ashland, NE with one of my co workers, who just happened to be a former pilot of the once mysterious “Looking Glass” aircraft that operated from 1961 to 1990’s ensuring control of our armed forces was never compromised. Chuck had been involved in this program for 4 years, ending when he left the USAF in 1971.
Chuck had been to the museum numerous times previously and was surprised to find the actual KC-135 (8049) he had piloted in the museum’s archives, waiting to be restored. The airship had been donated to the museum in 1993 and is just now beginning to receive the love / attention of the museum’s team of mostly volunteer artisans and restoration experts due to budgetary constraints.
Though the aircraft is currently off limits to the general public (as it’s a work in progress), we were given access and a personal tour by the Museum’s Curator, Mark Strehle. We were delighted to be one of the first persons to experience the recently fully restored cockpit. The level of detail and craftsmanship is breathtaking as you can see below. Every screw, switch, gauge, and surface had received the love and attention from the restoration experts. Work on the main fuselage was still in the early stages, however Chuck was able to give a guided tour of each station in the aircraft as well as the galley which had also been recently restored.
After touring the aircraft, we toured the rest of the Museum, which I haven’t been through in almost 20 years. Being an aviation and history buff, it was like heaven for 3 hours.
I felt truely honored to have this experience and this is definitely a bucket list item that I can proudly mark off. Spending time with Chuck and listening to his many stories is something I will never forget.
I don’t usually do this, but the SAC Museum and KC-135 #8049 could use your help! Please consider making a donation, no matter how big or small. Every bit will help this beautiful and important piece of our history get restored to where it can tell it’s story to generations to come! Please visit: https://sacmuseum.org/join-give/donate/ and select “EC-135 8049” in the designation box. Remember, every donation would be appreciated, no matter the size.