Driving back home from Northeastern Pennsylvania through Reading, we saw on the “attractions” sign the logo for the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum. We looked at each other, yelled “diversion!” and pulled off the highway to check it out. For two aviation buffs like us, there is usually no better diversion than to spend a couple hours touring historic aircraft.
Highway construction got us a little turned around, but despite the detour we found this delightful little museum tucked away on the North ramp of Reading Regional Airport. The airport is also known as Spaatz Field, named after General Carl Spaatz, who became the first Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force following World War II.
Given that the day was quiet, we were given a private tour by an Air Force veteran (whose name escapes us, sorry!). He was a blast to talk to, although Greg’s knowledge of some of the airplanes was often better than his. But no matter, because the breadth of aircraft to be seen was phenomenal for such a small museum. There were many military and civil aircraft on the ramp, including a Vickers Viscount, one of the first “jet” (turboprop) aircraft to see commercial service in the U.S. (by historic Capital Airlines), a Martin 404 airliner, and a B-25 “Mitchell” bomber. The hangar was chock-full of aircraft including several rare and prototype aircraft. The museum is actively involved in restoring several of these aircraft, the most unique of which is a P-61 “Black Widow” reconnaissance aircraft recovered from a New Guinea jungle. There are only four P-61’s still in existence, three of which are on permanent static display, according to the museum. The fourth – MAAM’s – is being restored to flying condition. That’s one aircraft we’d love to see in the air!
This is the kind of place where you could spend hours just exploring, but we left after a couple of hours, vowing to come back when we had more time … possibly for their WWII weekend. If you like aircraft and are driving through eastern Pennsylvania, check it out. www.maam.org. And don’t forget to visit their well-stocked gift shop with many one-of-a-kind items.