Cape May Airport, Lower Township, NJ – Naval Air Station Wildwood (NASW) Aviation Museum has been eagerly awaiting the “all clear” to reopen following Governor Murphy’s March 21st Stay at Home order. In a recent interview with the museum’s online newsletter The Osprey, Director Bruce Fournier commented, “we realized the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic early and proactively closed on March 9th.” Having a medical doctor as founder and chairman of the museum made it an easy decision. Fournier stated, “Dr. Salvatore was very supportive of our decision to close and have personnel work remotely even before it was mandated.”
Fast forward eight weeks and now the focus has become how the museum will re-emerge from this unprecedented crisis. Mr. Fournier noted that the museum has always been innovative and creative in its marketing. “We are not on Beach Drive or the boardwalk, so we have always worked hard to let visitors know the history of NASW and where the building is actually located. Hangar #1 has hosted school graduations, proms, the Runway 5k, County Veteran’s Day Ceremony and dozens of weddings.” In fact, NASW had five weddings planned for spring 2020, all of which have been cancelled or postponed.
It was following a Zoom (video conference) meeting with an engaged couple that staff realized the museum could use the building’s design as part of the reopening safety protocol. This particular couple was captivated with the 38’ high hangar doors. With the doors in the open position, air flow is enhanced and visibility of sunsets on the west side is remarkable. Coincidentally, all 24 of the large hangar doors were recently restored, now operational with new steel wheels, wood siding and paint. And thus, the idea to have a 92,000 sq./ft. “open air” museum with a roof was introduced!
As NASW continues to wait for approval to open to the public, plans are being put in place to ensure the health and safety of guests and staff. These steps include, opening the large hangar doors daily to allow fresh air flow, limiting guest capacity, hand sanitize stations, Plexiglas sneeze guards in gift shop and marking out 6’ social distancing reminders on the floor. Chairman Joseph E. Salvatore, MD added, “We anticipate face masks will be required as well for all guests and staff.” Whatever the case, NASW will be ready to welcome the public.
Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum is located inside historic Hangar #1 at the Cape May Airport, New Jersey. The site was formerly Naval Air Station Wildwood, which served as a World War II dive-bomber training center. The museum is dedicated to the 42 airmen who perished while training at Naval Air Station Wildwood between 1943 and 1945. For more information, visit www.usnasw.org or call (609) 886-8787.