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Members of the National WASP WWII Museum building committee met recently to discuss the museumâ€™s proposed 8,000 square feet expansion project. Peter Fox, Vice President of Expansion, arranged for KBA Design Architect Bob Kilduff and Project Manager/Board Member Dave Zobrist of ZProjects to review the design details with the building committee. The building committee is comprised of Board President Carol Cain, Board Secretary Sandra Spears, Board V.P. Tom Henderson, Board Treasurer Steven May, Board Past President Bill Johnson, Board Member Alan Carmicheal and Executive Director Sharron Davis.
The additional structure will be an extension of the current WASP Museum at Avenger Field and will display many of the 2,500 artifacts currently in possession of the museum. Many of the artifacts have not been seen before because of the need for climate control to protect their fragile condition and to preserve them for the future. Currently 90% of the museum is subjected to local weather extremes. â€śThis is a special tribute to the women who learned to fly here in service to their country â€¦ this project is not just the addition of more space at the museum,â€ť emphasized Peter Fox.
Of the 25,000 women who applied, only 1,800 were accepted with 1,178 graduating. The WASP program was active from January 1943 to December 1944. All of the 19 WASP classes, except the first, received their silver wings at Sweetwaterâ€™s Avenger Field.
The WASP Museum is now in an original hangar built in 1929 located near the Texas State Technical College Campus on Avenger Field Road. The museum formally opened its doors in 2005. â€śThis project is probably one of the biggest non-commercial privately-funded construction projects ever attempted in Sweetwater,â€ť explained Board President Carol Cain. â€śThis is a national museum and we want to do it right for the first women to ever fly military planes.â€ť
The project is expected to cost about 4 million dollars. To date, the project has been 100% privately funded. The new addition will showcase not only the achievements of the WASP, but also the important part Sweetwater played in the WWII experiment of women flying military planes. The new structure will be a travel destination highlighting the entrance to Sweetwater and greeting traffic on Interstate 20 with a glow from the re-created control tower.
Local members of the WASP Board include Sandra Spears (whose father was a WASP instructor), Tom Henderson (whose father-in-law was a WASP check pilot), Bill Johnson, Steven May, Alan Carmichael, Larry Ludlum, Jeanette Bryant and Nolan County Judge Tim Fambrough. The Museumâ€™s Executive Director is Sharron Davis who can be contacted for further information at (325) 235-0099.