Through my reads of aviation journals and magazines I’d been picking up tidbits of information about an aviation museum I didn’t know existed. Reportedly this facility has a very notable collection of WWII fighters along with many other fine aircraft, all restored to flyable condition. I had read the museum was the vision of the Fagen family who had ancestors that served during WWII. Located in the heartland of Minnesota about 130 miles due west of the Minneapolis airport it served as a convenient escape when visiting family in the region.
Upon entering the museum I was greeted by a restored WWI fighter JN-4 Jenny, and a background of other beautifully restored aircraft highlighted by a B25, its bright polished aluminum skin shining in the background.
Wandering around the museum, you see P-51D Mustangs, P-40’s, FM-2 Wildcat to name just a few of the spotless, restored to detail airplanes that grace the museum’s floors. Hanging in the museum they even have a fully restored Messeerschmitt BF-109 WWII German fighter.
Two years after my visit to this museum I realize it wasn’t just these great, popular aircraft that I recall, think and talk about the most, but some of the other displays they had. I found that the CG-4A Transport Glider something I still talk about the most from all my museum visits. This glider is only partially skinned to allow for observation of its construction and load carrying capabilities. These gliders, pulled by C-47 (DC-3) aircraft were used extensively during the Normandy Invasion. While these gliders were built in numerous factories some were built in Minnesota, making them the only WWII aircraft built in that state.
Sitting next to the glider is a Clark Airborne Bulldozer CA-1 which some of the gliders would carry, while others carried jeeps, weapons and troops.
The museum also has created a life scene of Utah Beach during D-day including a landing craft, and bronze soldier statues hitting the beach, with actual sand from the location.
As I wandered back to my car and drove down the road my mind wondered, as it still does today about those pilots and troops climbing into these wooden gliders and flying in mass, pulled by C-47’s across the English Channel that day. How did those C-47’s even get these gliders off the ground weighing 7500 lbs? Just what was going through that pilots mind as he was on final to an unprepared field with a bulldozer behind him?
This museum is a wonderful tribute to the greatest generation and their accomplishments during the dark years of WWII. The visionaries of the museum did a wonderful of job of sending me down the road thinking about my own relatives, one of which flew DC-3’s during D-Day and another that came across the beaches of France.
I rate this museum as a must see for any aviation buff anywhere near the region.
Personal museum visit
Museum's website: fagenfighterswwiimuseum.org
For more information on the museum, visit:
Note: The Fagen Fighters Museum page shows that they are currently (as of 9/10/20) closed due to Coronavirus risk. Make sure you check current opening hours of this and any museum before planning your visit.