Dakota Territory Air Museum – Carrying the Torch

Lopes Hope 3rd in close formation with the P-51D chase plane for the test flight, TFLM's Dakota Kid. (photo by Randy Ruttger via AirCorps Aviation)
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When they first stepped onto the scene a few years ago, the Texas Flying Legends Museum (TFLM) created an immediate stir, growing rapidly into a veritable fleet of immaculately restored, vintage military aircraft – a fleet which they campaigned with great vigor across the United States, and even the Caribbean on occasion. But while TFLM gathered the limelight and  name recognition with most aviation enthusiasts, the aircraft that they flew actually belonged to two distinct entities, with the Dakota Territory Air Museum (DTAM) being the other component. However, with TFLM’s recent closure, and the sale of most of their assets, the DTAM is now continuing their once joint mission alone, to share the history of these magnificent WWII aircraft and the lives of the people who built, maintained and flew them during their heyday. This change in DTAM’s profile has taken place quietly, but the museum’s founder, Warren Pietsch, sent us the following piece to set the record straight about their origins, and to provide some details for what the future holds…

Dakota Territory Air Museum – Carrying the Torch

by Warren Pietsch

As many have noticed, the Texas Flying Legends Museum (TFLM) is no longer active in the warbird arena. TFLM began in 2010 with the mission of honoring, educating and entertaining to bring awareness and recognition to U.S. and Allied veterans of all conflicts. Since the beginning, TFLM has been connected with the Dakota Territory Air Museum (DTAM). Both museums have shared in the operation and display of the TFLM collection. Both museums have also shared two donors, one of which has stepped back from the warbird industry to pursue another philanthropic direction. The TFLM facility at Ellington Field in Houston has been sold, as well as three aircraft from its collection: the P-40K Warhawk, TBM-3E Avenger and A6M2 Zero. The museum is now also offering for sale their B-25J Mitchell “Betty’s Dream” and FG-1D Corsair.

DTAM will continue to maintain, operate and display the remainder of the collection in Minot, ND. These planes include a D-Day veteran Spitfire Mk.IX, the P-40E Warhawk, FM-2 Wildcat, C-47/C-53 Skytrooper Duchess of Dakota, Harvard Mk.IV, P-51C Mustang “Lope’s Hope 3rd”, P-51D Mustang “Little Horse”, a Battle of Iwo Jima veteran Stinson L-5 Sentinel and a Luscombe T8F.

The museums have held the commitment of not only campaigning their flying warbirds, but also bringing them back to life. Towards this end, DTAM has developed a close relationship with AirCorps Aviation in Bemidji, MN. AirCorps has completed two award-winning projects for DTAM so far – the Harvard and the P-51C “Lope’s Hope 3rd”. DTAM has two other projects in progress with AirCorps, a razorback P-47D Thunderbolt and a P-38L Lightning, both of which are Pacific Theatre veterans. Three additional projects are coming out of restoration this year: an F8F-1 Bearcat at Ezell Aviation in Breckinridge, TX, a Hurricane  Mk.XII with Ray Middleton in Fort Collins, CO and a P-51D Mustang that will fly this month with Casey Odegaard in Kindred, ND in conjunction with AirCorps Aviation.

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The Dakota Territory Aviation Museum’s magnificent combat veteran P-47D Thunderbolt restoration is making significant progress at AirCorps Aviation’s facility in Bemidji, Minnesota. (photo by John LaTourelle)

TFLM and DTAM are proud of what has been accomplished over the past 9 years, and DTAM looks forward to continuing to “carry the torch” in the warbird and vintage aircraft arena.


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