Sheehan, Craven call for Rhode Island Airport Corporation to delay eviction of Quonset Air Museum
STATE HOUSE — In the hopes that the Quonset Air Museum will once again take flight, Sen. James C. Sheehan and Rep. Robert E. Craven have asked the Rhode Island Airport Corporation to delay its orders for the museum to vacate the premises.
The Air Museum, which preserves, interprets and presents Rhode Island’s aviation history through collections, research, education and exhibits, was grounded in March when the building suffered a partial roof collapse due to heavy snow. Safety officials condemned the building, leaving the museum homeless.
“It remains to be seen if the museum can be relocated or if enough funds can be raised to rebuild the existing structure,” said Senator Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, North Kingstown, Narragansett). “But it merits more time to determine if it can be saved. Losing this unique touchstone with America’s aviation history would be most regrettable.”
Founded in 1992 with the assistance of then Gov. Bruce Sundlun, the air museum educates the public in the state's rich aviation legacy and displays collections that document the contributions of Rhode Island to the growth and development of aviation and space exploration. The condemned building is an original Naval Air Station Quonset Point hangar built in 1945, as the point building for the Overhaul and Repair facility.
“For the past 23 years, the Quonset Air Museum has captivated and educated Rhode Islanders about our state’s unique aviation history and its permanent closing would be a tragic loss to the state. I support Senator Sheehan’s efforts in ensuring that all possible remedies are looked at before closing the air museum’s doors for good. Additionally, this museum has served as an important and inexpensive reminder of the sacrifice that military personnel made during World War II and the Korean War and to allow that reminder to vanish is disrespectful to that legacy.” said Representative Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown).
The museum has a large and valuable collection of aircraft, aircraft parts and other historical artifacts. The 28 aircraft include civilian, military and prototype aircraft dating from 1944 to 1983, including the last aircraft to fly from Quonset NAS, a one-of-a-kind TWIN TAIL Navy transport.
“The contributions of Rhode Islanders in this field simply cannot be overstated — nor can the importance of preserving that aviation heritage,” said Senator Sheehan. “The Quonset Air Museum has led the way not only in preserving but in showcasing that legacy. The dedication of the staff and volunteers has been noteworthy and admirable.”
Senator Sheehan has contacted the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, asking Executive Director Kelly Fredericks to stay the eviction order for a period of time necessary to determine if the museum can be saved.
“The boldness and bravery of the men and women who first conquered the skies, along with those who took to flight to fight tyranny and oppression, deserve a reasonable extension of time to ensure their stories will not be forgotten,” he said.
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903