Buehler Aerospace Restoration Center
**This building is staffed fully by volunteers and hours may vary, please call in advance if you wish to verify it will be open the day you plan to visit. **
This 8,000 square–foot facility, located adjacent to Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Air Museum at SUN ‘n FUN, houses SUN ‘n FUN’s year–round aircraft restoration activities. The facility was made possible by a $300,000 grant from The Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust, with additional support from a State of Florida Cultural Facilities and Historical Grant, and opened in April 2006.
The Buehler Trust was established in 1984 to perpetuate the memory of Emil Buehler and his commitment to aviation science and technology. A German immigrant to the United States, Buehler was a pioneer in aeronautics as well as a designer of buildings. He was actively involved in many of the significant aviation events that took place in New Jersey in the late 1920s and early 1930s. His involvement in aviation eventually included funding of a wind tunnel for testing space vehicles that became known as the Emil Buehler Mach 3 wind tunnel.
Examples of noteworthy restoration projects previously completed by SUN ‘n FUN volunteers and staff include:
- US Navy1953 Convair F2Y Sea Dart
- US Navy 1954 Lockheed XFV Vertical Riser
- Jupiter Rocket
- A 1936 Aeronca LB to airworthy condition
- 1941 Porterfield Collegiate
- 7/8-scale replica of a 1918 British SE5A fighter-scout biplane that now hangs in the Gene Strickland Terminal at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.
- J-31, America’s First Jet Engine – donated from EAA
- Pitts Special, donated by Bruce Dunham
Current projects include restoration of the Iconic Sunshine Clipper and support in conversion of a Boeing 727 donated by FedEx into our Piedmont Aerospace Experience – an interactive classroom that will be available for use by the Aerospace Center for Excellence, Central Florida Aviation Academy, Traviss Career Center and Polk State student aviation programs.
Aerospace Attic Research Library
The Aeropsace Attic is an Aviation Research Library, located on the 2nd floor of Aerospace Discovery at Florida Air Museum is a repository for all forms of aviation literature. These include magazines, books, manuals, micro film/fiche, videotapes, photographs, slides, art work and clip art.
Current inventory includes approximately 5,600 books and manuals, close to 5,000 slides, in excess of 33,000 magazines and over 15,000 photographs. All of these materials are available to anyone who desires to spend some time with us at the Aerospace Attic Reseach Library.
Reference materials cover many aircraft from A (the AAC model 90) to Z (the Zogling PH 1) and ranging in date from prior to WW I to the present. In addition, most aviation-related fields are covered in our ever-expanding collection; i.e. navigation, weather, shop practices, personalities, engines, etc.
The aerospace attic is available for use by appointment only.
For more information or to make arrangements to visit our aerospace attic, please call 863-644-2431.
Florida Aviation Hall of Fame
Developed in partnership with the Florida Aviation Historical Society (FAHS)
The Florida Aviation Hall of Fame is the brainchild of the late Jacksonville Chapter of the FAHS.
The Hall of Fame is under the direction of a Selection Committee of up to eleven members that are Aviation historians from throughout the State. Prior to their voting, a straw vote of aviation enthusiasts is conducted to give them voluntary non-binding guidance. The selection committee voting is then forwarded to the Hall of Fame at Aerospace Discovery at the Florida Aviation Museum. Each year successful candidates are installed in a ceremony held at the museum during the annual SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In.
The 2015 inductees were announced to be Billy Henderson, Merian Cooper and Howard “Scrappy” Johnson.
If you would like to get additional information on submitting candidate names, please write to:
P.O. Box 127
Indian Rocks Beach, FL, 33785
or e-mail Warren Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org
Howard Hughes Personal Aviation Collection
In June, 1986, the Florida Air Museum (then the SUN ‘n FUN Air Museum) took proud possession of more than 180 crates and boxes of Howard Hughes aviation memorabilia, including a 14-foot model of the Spruce Goose, Hughes’ leather flying suits, racing trophies, books, manuals, maps, scrapbooks, and personal memorabilia were included.
The museum prevailed over such institutions as UCLA, Embry Riddle and the University of Southern California for the collection. The quest for the collection, which started in 1994, came to fruition in January, 1996, when Vernon Olson, Sr. Vice President of the Hughes Corporation paid his second visit to the Museum. Olson appreciated the fact that the Museum would make the collection accessible to the public. He also noted that Howard Hughes visited Florida many times and was enamored with the flying boats he found. Hughes’ close associate, Al Lodwick, who helped plan his trip around the world in1938, had his base of operations in Lakeland and ran the Lodwick School of Aviation at Lodwick Field, now the site of Joker Marchant Stadium.
The Hughes collection contains memorabilia from several facets of Hughes life including the 65 movies he directed or had a major role in producing. “Hell’s Angels” is probably the most famous of these, at least among aviators.
Another phase of Hughes life and artifacts concern the four aircraft he built; the HK-1 nefariously called the “Spruce Goose”; the H-1 racer with which he set closed course and cross-country speed records; the D-2 bomber which, though aerodynamically advanced, failed to interest the military; and the XF-11 which crashed. During his recovery from injuries sustained in the crash Hughes was inspired to develop the modern, adjustable, hospital bed. Large wind tunnel models of all four aircraft are on display and contain additional wings and airfoil sections.
A third facet of Hughes career was his around the world flight in 1938. The flight created media frenzy comparable to that of Charles Lindbergh’s flight and man’s first landing on the moon. Many items in the collection lend credence to this major world event. A fourth group of artifacts record many of the business details of Hughes’ life and includes samples of his personal notes, business dealings, and specific projects not universally known. Objects in this exhibit present Hughes as a designer, test pilot, movie producer and entrepreneur.
Artifacts are on display to the public on a rotating basis, and the full archives are available upon request for research purposes by qualified scholars. The Museum is currently seeking much-needed funding for vital ongoing preservation and cataloging work in order to enhance this significant part of American history.