The former Naval Air Station in Brunswick (NASB), was a key player during World War II and The Cold War, and its strategically important location is the perfect setting for a museum to preserve this unique and untold period of American history and to honor those who served at NASB.
In 2009, a dedicated group of retired and former Navy personnel, museum professionals and other interested individuals met to begin the process of creating the first museum in the world to document and preserve the history and legacy of maritime patrol aviation and especially the role played by NASB. We then set about incorporating, drafting bylaws, developing a business plan and obtaining our 501(c)3 status with the IRS. An organizational Board of Directors was established to undertake operations. In December of 2015, through the support and generosity of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and the U.S. Navy, the museum purchased the former NASB Chapel that also enclosed the Memorial and Friendship Gardens. With 21 foot ceilings in the former nave, its 13,600 square feet will provide ample space to mount permanent and rotating exhibits, to present hands-on educational programs for school children, to conduct research activities and to house an archives, library and curatorial spaces.
At last the important story will be told of the venerable British WWII F4U “Corsairs” training at NASB for the Pacific Theater, the evolution of the P-2 “Neptune” and P-3 “Orion” aircraft platforms during the Cold War, documenting advancements and innovations in technology and the patrol aircrafts’ progression from surface and sub-surface surveillance to over-land reconnaissance. Video, film, photographs and diagrams can explain equipment and methods and when possible, displays of tactics and equipment will deepen our understanding of the complex environment of anti-submarine warfare (ASW). A sophisticated, wide-screen flight simulator has already been developed in-house and allows visitors to “fly” NAS Brunswick’s legacy aircraft, the “Corsair,” P-2 and P-3, as well as numerous other aircraft including the Blue Angel’s F-18 “Hornet.” The museum can also serve as the future home for exhibits memorializing the new Boeing P-8 “Poseidon” and the role of drones and integrated anti-submarine warfare.
It is important to document the activities and sacrifices of the tens of thousands of men and women who served, trained and flew out of NAS Brunswick. While their families lived and worked in the small towns of coastal New England, making positive and lasting contributions to their communities, squadron members deployed overseas for up to eight months at a time. Those that made the ultimate sacrifice flying in this nation’s defense have been honored with plaques placed in the Memorial Gardens, enclosed in an atrium of the former base Chapel and lovingly tended for over 40 years by a civilian garden club. These fallen heroes and shipmates are an integral part of the museum’s message and we will preserve and honor their dedication and sacrifices in our Memorial and Friendship Gardens.
It is also important that we will bring together and show the research, innovation and contributions of dozens of American corporations and government laboratories that developed the unique aircraft and equipment that gave the Navy technological superiority over its adversaries, and to secure peace and deter aggression. The museum will be inviting Lockheed, General Dynamics, Boeing, Raytheon, Allison, Rolls Royce, Hamilton Standard and many others to assist us in this documentation, to loan us artifacts and provide sponsorship and contributions toward preserving their legacy.