The Grissom Air Museum of Peru, Indiana has developed a clever program for maintaining its collection of 26 military aircraft that are all on display outdoors. The Museum’s PROP program allows individuals or groups to adopt a plane and contribute either monetarily or through their labor to contribute to the upkeep of the historic craft that without regular attention would soon succumb to the elements in Indiana’s harsh climate.
The museum’s program has different levels of care based upon the capabilities of the participants. Level One entails general care where the individual or group performs bi-annual attention to the plane they’ve adopted and includes washing the plane, removing weeds and brush that has grown under and around the craft and repair or replacement of the safety line and border that surrounds the plane. The adoptive caretakers are expected to make two visits to the plane, usually on a weekend once in the spring and once in the fall. The museum provides the cleaning materials, the clean up equipment, and other tools. It also offers the group a free meal to thank them for their efforts. When a group agrees to “adopt” a plane, that groups’ name is published in all of the museum’s print media.
Level Two involves anyone who would like to help the museum in raising money that will be used expressly for the repair and maintenance of its aircraft. These volunteers help the director organize and put on events both at the museum and offsite. These events currently include a golf outing, a car show, and being a vendor at area events such as the Kokomo Air Show and the various fairs and festivals.
Level Three is for those with the resources to provide tax deductible donations that would be used to purchase materials, supplies, and equipment that the museum would use to make needed restorations. Both materials and supplies are consumables, so these items need are in need of constant replenishment.
Level Four, for skilled labor or craftsmen, involves those people who have been trained and have experience in aviation mechanics and/or aircraft restoration. Those with a background in areas such as corrosion control, metal fabrication, or aircraft mechanics, can donate their skill-set and knowledge to an aircraft that needs that type of work done on it.
By enlisting the public and giving them “ownership” of the planes and the opportunity to get a very up close and personal experience with their warbird, interest in the planes is increased along with community involvement, to say nothing of the value of getting needed work done. With a fast growing collection, the Grissom Air Museum has come up with a true win-win program that is fiendishly simple and clever at the same time. The only issue we could foresee with a program like this would be with the facility’s insurance carrier.