Wings of Eagles Discovery Center Museum
The Wings of Eagles Discovery Center is Located in Horseheads, NY At the Elmira/Corning Airport, right next to Elmira, NY .
The Wings of Eagles Discovery Center grounds consist of:
- Gift shop and small exhibit area
- Outdoor area with an F-15 Eagle, A-7 Corsair II, Martin RB-57, Douglas A-26 Invader, Grumman OV-1 Mohawk, and a couple of other aircraft
- Indoors the main display hangar houses the TBM Avenger, Heinkel HE-162, Ohka Suicide Rocket, F-14 Tomcat, F-4 Phantom II, A-10 Thunderbolt II, MiG-17, and other aircraft
- Restoration hangar with a Douglas R4D Skytrain, MiG-17, North American SNJ-3 Texan, Stinson L5 Sentinel, Douglas BTD-1 Destroyer. and other aircraft
The most interesting and outstanding aircraft in my eyes was their German WWII Heinkel HE-162 Salamander jet fighter. This example is actually an excellent reproduction constructed by George Lucas of NY State (No relation to Princess Leia). George also built the Ohka Cherry Blossom Suicide Rocket Bomb. Mr. Lucas's attention to detail and build quality of both aircraft is very very good. No external details have been left out that were visible on the originals.
The rarest exhibit, located in the restoration hangar is the Douglas BTD-1 Destroyer. It is the only surviving example of the 28 Destroyer airframes that were built. This aircraft was the predecessor of the Douglas Skyraider that was used extensively in Korea and Vietnam. When I visited the the museum the BTD-1 Destroyer had been restored and was awaiting paint. I hope they paint it in the US Navy's 3 color scheme of WWII.
The TBM Avenger Torpedo bomber has been very well restored, as are all the aircraft in the display hangar. You don't see too many FH-1 Phantoms or F2H2 Banshees at other museums, and these are the first examples I've seen in all the museums I've visited so far. Their F-4 Phantom II has an outstanding paint scheme and is one of the best F-4 restorations I've seen. The MiG-21 looks great in its Polish Air Force livery, and I think is one of the hottest looking fighter jets ever produced. A privately owned MiG-17 also resides at the museum, and it is still airworthy. A Douglas R4D, the navy version of the C-47, was undergoing maintenance in the restoration hangar. As I write this I've read that the Skytrain is now airworthy and the museum wishes to sell it off due to its large size and cost to maintain.
The Wings of Eagles Museum is a short drive off Rt 17/I-86 in Horseheads, NY and just outside of Elmira. There is no food on site other than vending machine drinks, but there were several fast food places right off the highway. The museum has a small gift shop with aviation related stuff. Parking is free and close to the entrance and all of the exhibits are on one level making the museum very handicap accessible. The staff were friendly but busy. You needed a staff member to get into the restoration area and on the day I visited the guide's time was limited. For hours and directions, visit the Wings of Eagles Museum Website.
If you have the time there is one more aviation museum in the Elmira area, the National Soaring Museum in Harris Hill. It is only about 5 miles from Wings of Eagles and both museums could be easily visited in a day.
11/2010 - Since I visited earlier in the year the Museum's management has leased out a portion of the hangar and there were plans to relocate. As I write this the museum is closed and the move has begun, yet the location that Wings of Eagles is moving to has not been disclosed. One of the docents I spoke with said the management wanted the museum to be more of a learning center, teaching math, science, and aeronautics to children and that they were getting away from displaying and maintaining airworthy aircraft. They also wanted to focus more on current and future technology and less on propeller driven aircraft. Their Boeing B-17 and PBY Catalina that were their big attractions when the museum was named the National Warplane Museum have already been sold off. Without a focus on flyable aircraft they don't need to be located at an airport may be moving away from Elmira/Corning.
As a result of these changes consider these pages as a snapshot of what the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center used to be when it was still located at the Elmira/Corning Regional Airport. I expect the museum's exhibits to be more interactive and kid focused. From what the museum guides were saying there will be fewer if any propeller driven aircraft and their Douglas Skytrain is already up for sale.
This website not affiliated with the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center.