Restoring a Piece of Aviation History
New Castle, Delaware USA – August 2011
A small but mighty group arrived in New Castle, Delaware, to tackle a bank of metal-framed windows at the Bellanca Air Service Hangar. Even while working, Beth Obergh and her teenage children fell in love with historic New Castle and said:
We had a fantastic time in Delaware- thank you so much for the amazing experience that left such a positive impact on our family! We will definitely book another vacation with you!
Duffy Hoffman, a window expert from West Virginia who led the project, set a daunting goal of completely restoring 24 of the hangar’s 1000 windows. The other windows are being left covered to protect the collections inside. It would have been an ambitious job for even a brawnier crew, but Duffy reassured the project partners – AiP, Preservation Delaware and the Friends of Bellanca Airfield, Inc. – that the job would get done.
The group worked diligently, scraping, priming and painting through the week. The five AiP volunteers contributed 200 hours of labor to the project – and completed the 24 windows just like Duffy said they would. Their effort saved Friends of Bellanca Airfield a significant amount of both time and money.
The goal of this community-based volunteer group is to preserve the hangar while adapting it for community use. The Bellanca Hangar is the last vestige of the Bellanca Aviation Corporation and Flying Field, established in 1927 by Giuseppe Mario Bellanca and Henry B. DuPont. The hangar will ultimately be open to the public as a museum and function space.
As with all our projects, the week provided a balance of working to save history and time to explore it. Each night volunteers traveled back in time, heading “home” to the historic Terry House B&B, just across the street from the 1732 Court House. During a visit to Penn Farm, they learned the story of a farm that is part of the original 1000+ acre New Castle Common. Their week of adventure ended with an in-depth tour of the 1855 Lesley Manor and a farewell dinner at Polidoro Italian Grill.
When asked what they liked best about their experience, the new preservationists’ most common response was “everything!”. Our project partners were just as delighted.