Niagara Gazette — When most people think about aviation and aerospace history, they are likely to think of the Wright Brothers in Ohio or the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Western New York, however, might not come to mind right away.
It should though. The Buffalo-Niagara region was once considered a hub of development and manufacturing of such equipment. The Niagara Aerospace Museum been sharing that history for decades.
“The Niagara Aerospace Museum has over 100 years of Western New York history,” said Paul Faltyn, the museum’s curator. Most of the specimens inside the museum focus on the innovations of Bell Aircraft and Curtiss-Wright Corporations, both having been founded locally.
Some of the most notable pieces include early Bell helicopters, including what Faltyn referred to as the earliest commercial helicopters as well as a Bell P-39 Airacobra discovered in Russia in 2004. There is also memorabilia from the Mach 1 flight.
“That was the first jet to go Mach 1 and break the sound barrier,” explained Faltyn. “It was flown by a pilot named Chuck Yeager.”
There are also original examples of Curtiss Pusher, Jenny and Hawk models on display. They even have a kids’ area where children can play with model planes.
“ I’m impressed with everything here,” said Susan Smith who was visiting with her grandson Mason Smith. “We’re always looking for places in the winter we can bring a 2-year old, they’ve got everything, large scale models, a little movie and toys for kids.”
Mason was thoroughly enjoyed the museum. His grandfather, Colin Smith, stopped at an exhibit featuring the P-39 plane being worked on by a “Rosie the Riveter” mannequin. Mason curiously picked up tools from Rosie’s toolbox and his grandfather explained what each one was.
The Smiths agree that the museum is worth the stop and has a lot of knowledge to offer, making it a great place for kids. Colin added that Western New York’s significant flight history was worth checking out.