Last of Quonset museum’s aircraft getting shipped out

By Alana Cerrone

acerrone@abc6.com

@Alana_Cerrone

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. (WLNE) – On Route 4, there’s a sign for the Quonset Air Museum. But the museum’s been closed for over 2 years now, and today one of the last remaining historic aircraft was being packed up and shipped out.

It’s an A-4F Skyhawk, the same kind Senator John McCain flew in when he was gunned down in Vietnam. It’s heading to its new home at a museum in Alabama.

"It’s a cool airplane. It completes part of our collection – it’s something that the public wants to see."

And something Rhode Islanders won’t get to see anymore. The last of the museum’s 25 planes are almost all spoken for.

"I don’t think the leaders at be realize they’re shipping Rhode Island aviation history out of the state."

Like this plane that made an appearance in ‘Top Gun’. It’s going to the Naval Academy.

But historian Larry Webster says the museum has no other choice. In 2015, its roof partially collapsed, and they never found a new place to store their $25 million worth of aircraft, despite talks with state leaders like Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello.

"He said he would try to help us if he could but…didn’t."

Webster calls the closure a sad ending for the museum hard-fought for by former Governor Bruce Sundlun. "He created it – he made sure it happened – he pulled all the strings."

Webster thinks people just lost interest in aviation history, and it wasn’t a priority anymore. But he also says they’ll notice something’s missing at next year’s air show.

"The air show is not gonna be as intensive in historical aircraft."

Museum officials hope the last of the aircraft will be shipped out soon so they won’t have to go through another New England winter outside in the elements.

© WLNE-TV 2017