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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

Importance of Pueblo’s Weisbrod Aircraft Museum

Photo by Camerron Martin B-29 Superfortress “Peachy”

By Cidonia Ponce

Many historical factors contribute to Pueblo’s pride and respect. One specific establishment brings much importance and patriotism to our city; it’s a place that highlights the tribulations and triumphs of the brave men and women who put themselves face first to fight for this country. This organization has been around since the early 1970s and is known today as Pueblo’s Weisbrod Aircraft Museum.

Five miles east of Pueblo lies Pueblo’s very own industrial park, which has brought numerous job opportunities to the city. During World War II, this industrial park was also home to Pueblo Army Air Base (PAAB), a facility that offered one of the most essential fields for bomber training pilots and crews. From 1942-47, the establishment was used only for training, which enabled thousands of men and women to head straight to combat in every element. PAAB officially closed in the summer of 1947 and in 1948, the city of Pueblo retrieved the land back.

Years later in the early 1970s, Pueblo City Manager Fred Weisbrod along with other interested individuals decided to protect the remaining aircraft while providing the correct care to preserve these historical artifacts. This group of individuals later became known as the Pueblo Historical Aircraft Society, which holds the responsibility to manage the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum (PWAP). 

Rick Sandidge, the public relations representative for PWAP, relayed general information regarding the museum as well as its importance and purpose.

Because the museum is a non-profit, the organization runs strictly off grants and donations. Most of these donations are from our local community or on permanent loans from the federal government. Sandidge commented on the donation routine, which seems to be a simple process. “Just bring in whatever you wish to donate, fill out a donation agreement, and leave it with us,” Sandidge stated. 

When these items are donated, the agreement is that these donations are permanent. “‘In perpetuity’ is the word,” said Sandidge, which translates to forever. Sandidge also mentioned the reasons why he decided to donate and the personal importance it holds for him. “My dad brought some things back from the Vietnam war, and unfortunately, I don’t think that if they stayed in the family past me that anyone would really appreciate them the way he did, and the way I do. There’s a personal connection there.” These donations are all preserved and kept safe, which is a promise by the museum. “A lot of what gets donated gets rotated in and out because we just have so much,” Sandidge said. These donations range from army uniforms and plaques to B-29 bombers and NASA aircraft.

PWAM holds great purpose not only to the community but to the veterans themselves.  “It’s to preserve our history, and more specifically, our American history. It’s to preserve a way of life that the generations back then believed in and were willing to fight for,” Sandidge stated.  

Another contributor to the museum is volunteer Bruce Elson, a 99-year-old WWII veteran who was born on Pueblo’s east side. Elson graduated from Centennial high school in 1941 and two years later was drafted into WWII as a Lieutenant. Soon, Elson met the love of his life in Oklahoma before going overseas and the two enjoyed a 73-year-long marriage. Elson’s grandchildren are fifth-generation Centennial HS graduates. 

Elson explained the importance that the museum serves for him and how he contributes. “Because I lived during that time when people come through, I am able to tell them stories about things they never heard before and the things that I was familiar with,” Elson explained. 

PWAM respectably recognizes veterans, making sure they are being highlighted in the brightest light. Elson spoke on the significance of having the PWAM in Pueblo and its importance to him. “It makes me feel real good. A lot of people don’t know that we are the only city in the United States that has 4 medals of honor recipients. I think it’s important for people to know about that,” Elson commented. “It shows the determination and dedication that’s instilled in people in this town.”

Elson is an avid volunteer at PWAM and gives informational tours every other weekend. “People come from everywhere to see this museum. It’s got to be the best museum in the state of Colorado,” Elson confidently said. 

Sandidge mentioned their Ghost Tours which are hosted on the first Saturday of each month between 8 and 10 p.m. “We tour the hangars and we try to see what spirits we can talk to and best believe we have them,” Sandidge said. Each participant is given a blacklight and an EMF meter. For more information and registration, visit puebloghosttour.com.

Sandidge also talked about an upcoming event called “Wings and Wheels Car Show”, which will be taking place on Saturday, April 15th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This will be the third annual event for this collaboration and so far it has brought a lot of engagement to the museum. There will be live music, food trucks, vendors and much more including warbird flights and displays. “We believe we can fit 200 cars on the grounds and in the hangars. Each year it gets bigger so we are really looking forward to it,” Sandidge explained. For more information regarding this event or how to register a car, visit their website at www.pwam.org or call 719-948-9219.

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