Volunteers lend a needed hand at Cradle of Aviation Museum
, 2022-11-23 17:37:14,
Having climbed the A-frame ladder, Bob Hoeffner works on the distinctive radome of a Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye. Nearby, Jim Votra and Joe Napodano maneuver an aerial work platform alongside a Vietnam War-era Republic F-105 Thunderchief — to repair the damaged tail.
The three are among a group of volunteers — most, retirees from the aviation industry — who donate their time at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Uniondale. Some serve as docents and museum guides. Others take tickets and give tours to visitors, including a large number of schoolchildren.
Hoeffner, Votra, Napodano and about two dozen others are behind-the-scenes workers who restore, repair, prepare and maintain aircraft and museum exhibits in an old Mitchel Field aircraft hangar known as Hangar 5.
“We rarely, if ever, get anything that doesn’t need work,” said Cradle of Aviation Museum curator Josh Stoffas, who oversees the sometimes chaotic, sometimes balletic movements going on amid a host of hangar-bound restoration projects.
WHAT TO KNOW
- A group of volunteers restore vintage aircraft or help out in other ways at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City.
- Late last month, the museum rolled out a U.S. Navy Grumman F-14 D Tomcat volunteers have spent the past year restoring.
- The Cradle of Aviation has an inventory of about 75 planes.
“A lot of museums have money and can afford to buy finished products,” Stoffas said. “Not us … Almost everything we have needs…
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