The Atterbury-Bakalar Air Museum is located on the grounds of the Columbus Municipal Airport (formerly Bakalar Air Force Base) in Columbus, Indiana. It is dedicated to all the military personnel and civilians who participated, in any role, in wars and conflicts from the years of 1942-1970. The museum was initially founded in 1992 and has since doubled its size in 2014. It features large scale model aircraft, exhibits about WWI glider pilots, Tuskegee Airmen, military barracks, and the Columbus manufacturers who produced goods and equipment for the war. A rotating beacon that is believed to be the light at the Atterbury base is also housed in the museum. Any air force and military history enthusiasts are welcome to visit and get an authentic part of the U.S.’s air force history.
The museum takes its
name after WWII pilot James Eden Bakalar of Hammond, Indiana who died over
France on September 1, 1944. The air force base was originally called
Atterbury Air Base due to the proximity to Camp Atterbury, located 14
miles north. The base was later renamed Bakalar Air Force Base in 1954.
Originally serving as an
active base during both World War II and the Korean War, the original base was
opened in February 1943. From 1946 until 1949, the base was closed due to the
end of the second World War effort. However, following the establishment of the
Air Force as an individual branch of the service in 1948, the 2466th Air Force
Reserve Combat Training Center of Stout Field, Indianapolis, worked to re-open
the base for further use. Over the years, however, the air base was slowly
phased out, and eventually it was closed in 1970.
Over twenty years later,
a museum was constructed and dedicated in Bakalar’s honor. In 2014, the museum
held a second grand-opening ceremony. Due to an increase in the number of
exhibits, an expansion for the building was needed. The newly-added expansion
more than doubled the area for the museum’s exhibits. A large gallery was added
to the south end of the already-present building, and now includes both meeting
and library rooms in addition to a well-expanded exhibit area. Enthusiasts of both
military and air force history are encouraged to pay a visit and tour the
museum’s wide variety of exhibits, including G4-A Glider artifacts, an exhibit
dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen, and a one-of-a-kind scale aircraft display.