NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum – May 2020 News Update

Sunset at NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum. The museum is gradually moving forwards with re-opening plans. (image via NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum)

The following press release shows details about how Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum expects to move forwards in the coming months. It’s good to see the progress the museum is making…

The staff at Naval Air Station Wildwood (NASW) Aviation Museum is eager to return to some sense of “normalcy.” As we await final approval to open, the museum building has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized and the gift shop is fully stocked. The F-16 received a fresh coat of paint and the “propeller balancing exhibit room” has been renovated to include a new floor and lighting. The museum also expects delivery of a rare 1940’s Dodge Power Wagon in early June. This vehicle was donated almost two years ago and has been undergoing restoration in Gettysburg, PA. In the meantime, we wait patiently for a new addition!

The museum’s F-16 Fighting Falcon recently completed its repaint. (image via NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum)

From the early days of NAS Wildwood when locals volunteered at the base and airmen enjoyed a day off in the Wildwoods or Cape May, NASW has always had a cooperative relationship with the local community. Therefore, it was without hesitation that the NASW Board of Trustees agreed to help the class of 2020 in a very unique way. School officials from Lower Cape May Regional (LCMR) High School recently contacted NASW in their pursuit of having an “in person” graduation.
Strict guidelines from the State have made it impossible to host the traditional graduation at the LCMR football field. Parents and students were becoming increasingly saddened with the idea of a “virtual graduation.” There had to be a better idea, a way to get at least the graduates and their families together. The school needed space, and a lot of it, to accommodate over 200 cars! Museum Chairman Joseph Salvatore MD immediately contacted the Delaware River & Bay Authority (operators of Cape May Airport) and airport operations to seek approval for the high school’s use of the facility. A meeting was held at the museum on Friday May 22, 2020 between all involved and approvals are in place.

One of two TBM Avengers at the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum out in the sunshine. She will spread her wings outside this summer during the proposed drive-thru graduation ceremony. The museum has another example, still in its civilian air-tanker configuration. (image via NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum)

The proposed graduation has also been sanctioned by the Township of Lower Chief of Police and fits within the State of NJ Covid-19 guidelines. Students and family members will be permitted one (1) car only and occupants must remain in the car for the ceremony. Vehicles will parade from the school to NASW and park on the museum’s west side facing the hangar. Sound will be transmitted to each car via an FM transmitter and a large screen monitor will be erected. The monitor will be used to show “the year in review video” and a photo of each graduate as their name is read. The school district plans to live-stream the entire ceremony. NASW will move the F-16 and TBM Avenger to serve as a most fitting backdrop as the graduates prepare to “spread their wings.”

A previous graduation ceremony held at NAS Wildwood during the 1990s. Obviously, social distancing will make this a slightly different affair for this summer’s proposed event. (image via NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum)

Guidance from the State has been changing daily, but as of now the museum is prepared to host and honor the class of 2020! Please be sure to visit the museum (when reopened) and look for the class of 2020 photo wall.

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