Celebrating 30 years of ESAM
Saturday: Guided tours, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Saturday through Sunday, Aug. 17: open cockpits
Monday through Sunday, Aug. 17: Flights and ground tours of a World War II Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Flights cost $425, and ground tours are included with admission to the museum. To reserve a flight, call 602-448-9415 or email email@example.com.
Tuesday: Unveiling of World War I and Space Rover exhibits, 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday: Stick rocket class, 1 p.m.
Thursday: NASA space class, 1 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 15: Flight simulator class, 1 p.m.
Friday through Sunday, Aug. 15-17: Craft and antique show
Saturday, Aug. 16: ESAM's famous fly-in breakfast, 8:30 a.m.
Sunday, Aug. 17: Car show, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; celebration dinner at the Light House Restaurant, 5:30 p.m. Cost is $35, and reservations are required by calling Vina at 377-2191, ext. 10
The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from Saturday through Sunday, Aug. 17. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and military members, $5 for children ages 6-16 and free for museum members and children ages 5 and younger.
A dozen young campers looked on as Isaiah Gershon crouched under a Grunmaker S-2 Tracker and put his hand on the bomb bay where submarine-targeting torpedoes were once stored.
“This here would open — it’s separate so they would open it — and then when they affirmatively got the target, they would drop it,” he said. “Also, they used tracking.”
He climbed out from underneath the plane and walked behind it, pointing to a rear-facing torpedo launcher.
“This is just a cover, but there would be about 30 holes in here, and torpedoes maybe that big would come out,” he said, holding his hands about a foot apart.
A male counselor from the Mekeel Academic and Arts Camp in Scotia asked him how fast it could fly.
“About 280 [mph],” Isaiah said.
There’s no better place for a youngster’s love for planes to take off than the Empire State Aerosciences Museum at 250 Rudy Chase Drive in Glenville, where Isaiah gave tours last week.
Isaiah knows that better than anyone; the 10-year-old Rotterdam boy said he enjoys sharing his knowledge of planes with his peers and elders.
"Hopefully, if they get some information, then they can pass it on to their friends," he said.
Starting Saturday, the museum is celebrating 30 years of educating the public on the state's aviation history with a week of guided tours, open cockpits, classes, a car show and a visit from a World War II bomber, one of fewer than 10 in service of the 12,731 that were built. Built in 1943, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was the primary bomber used by the American Air Force against Nazi Germany.
The air museum, a nonprofit organization, started in a room at Richmor Aviation at the Schenectady County Airport in Glenville in 1984, said Kevin Millington, second vice president of the museum’s board of trustees. The museum moved to its current airport home, the former General Electric Flight Test Center, in 1987.
John Panoski, first vice president of the museum’s board, helped bulldoze the airpark.
“Every night, somebody different would be driving the bulldozer, and the county would dump dirt and we would have to level it out,” he said.
Inside the museum last week, Raymond Hill of Schenectady watched his grandsons, ages 3 and 5, take turns standing at an electrical flight control console, trying to land a tiny model aircraft as it circled a runway.
“They’ve been itching to come in here,” said Hill, 52. “They want to do the planes that are outside, [that] is what they want to do. I didn’t even know there was all this in here.”
His youngest grandson, Bradley, interrupted him.
“We love planes,” he said.
The museum is home to the state’s largest aviation library, a variety of exhibits and model airplanes, a restoration center and 20 historic aircraft. Among the museum’s many gems is one of the world’s biggest and most detailed models of the World War II aircraft carrier Akagi, built for the film “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and a Northrup F-5 Tiger which was flown in the movie “Top Gun.”
Isaiah Gershon said his favorite aircraft is the S-2 Tracker because “it definitely has a lot of history to it.”
“It was on the Intrepid down in New York City, and after that, it was converted for a trainer and was based out of Miami,” he said.
“How’d you know all that?” his grandfather, Gary, asked.
“Google,” Isaiah replied.
Isaiah has been giving tours since the fall of 2013 after his grandfather, a volunteer who helps restore the museum's planes, recommended him as a guide.
“My grandpa was in the Air Force, and I sort of caught on,” Isaiah said.