URBANA, Ohio—The Champaign Aviation Museum’s annual fundraising gala on Saturday, April 23, treated guests to the sights and sounds of aviation heritage.
With the fuselage of the B-17G bomber “Champaign Lady” as a backdrop, guests dined in the museum, which also serves as a hangar and B-17 manufacturing plant on historic Grimes Field Airport. The Boyer Sisters, a Cincinnati area trio, sang boogie-woogie songs in close harmony reminiscent of the Andrews Sisters, whose hit songs lifted morale during World War II.
Outside, the museum’s restored B-25J Mitchell bomber “Champaign Gal” made flybys and served up the nostalgic beat of twin Wright radial engines.
The event’s guest speaker was National Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinee Dick Rutan, who made history with Jeana Yeager when they flew the one-of-a-kind Voyager airplane on the first nonstop, unrefueled flight around the world.
The gala drew 380 guests, 70 more than last year’s turnout, said Dave Shiffer, the museum’s executive director. He said he was “very happy” with the attendance.
The museum showcases restored airplanes, mainly warbirds. It’s biggest project is building “Champaign Lady” from parts of several other B-17s, with much of it scratch-built by volunteers. Its goal is to make the airplane flyable.
The gala is the museum’s biggest annual fundraising event. “We survive on donations from the public, and the gala is a big part of that,” Shiffer said.
Go to Facebook to watch video clips of the B-25 flyover.