Destination Spotlight – Silent Wings Museum
This month’s destination spotlight is one of our favorite places to visit in Lubbock. The Silent Wings Museum tells the story of the World War II glider program and features one of the few fully restored glider planes in existence. We caught up with Donald Abbe, Ph.D., curator for the Silent Wings Museum to ask a few questions about the majestic place.
What is the history of the Silent Wings Museum?
The Silent Wings Museum was created by the National WWII Glider Pilots Association in the mid-1980s. The glider pilots felt they were being left out of the history of the war, as portrayed in books, movies and television shows made after the war. They created their association in 1971, then established a museum in 1984. The museum was originally located in Terrell, Texas. By the mid- to late-1990s the pilots realized they were soon going to be unable to take care of the museum, so began looking for a new home. The City of Lubbock was attempting to broaden the heritage tourism aspects of the local economy in that time period, so there was an interest in the museum. There was also a historical link, as about 80 percent of the glider pilots trained during WWII were trained in Lubbock and received their wings at South Plains Army Airfield. As a result, in 2000 an agreement was made to relocate the museum to Lubbock and house it at the old Lubbock Municipal Airport terminal building. The museum reopened in 2002.
What sets the Silent Wings Museum apart from other flight museums?
The Silent Wings Museum is a truly unique facility. We are the only museum in the U.S., and probably in the world, dedicated to telling the story of the WWII glider program and the pilots who flew the huge cargo gliders into combat. Other museums might have a small section devoted to the glider program and might even have a portion of a glider on display. We are the only one that dedicated more than 40,000 square feet of exhibit space to only the gliders and the glider pilots.
Do traveling exhibits visit the museum each year?
The Silent Wings Museum attempts to bring at least one traveling exhibit to Lubbock every year. We also produce our own temporary exhibits when there is an opportunity to do so.
What are the biggest events of the year for the Silent Wings Museum?
Our two biggest events of the year are the D-Day event, which is held on June 6 each year and honors the sacrifice made by Allied forces on the shores of Normandy, France during a critical moment in World War II in Europe. Visitors can view the documentary “D-Day Remembered,” enjoy children’s educational activities, special exhibits, a WWII patch display and much more. We always celebrate Veteran’s Day on November 11 with fun activities for families.
What is your favorite part of the museum?
As the curator, my favorite part of the museum is the Hangar Gallery, where we exhibit the actual airplanes used by the glider pilots during WWII. It is a great pleasure to view our fully restored CG-4A cargo glider, one of the approximately seven in the world in existence. The soaring glass walls of the gallery provide a wonderful setting for our vintage “birds,” and the visitor can look out across the grounds of the airport as modern airplanes come and go.
Why should visitors make a stop at the Silent Wings Museum when they are in Lubbock?
Visitors to Lubbock, and citizens of Lubbock as well, should visit the Silent Wings Museum. It is a world class facility, which always seems to surprise our first time visitors, and tells a story of the military history of WWII (and Lubbock’s own WWII history) that is quickly fading from the consciousness of the nation. If you have an interest in Lubbock’s history and in the history of WWII, you need to visit the Silent Wings Museum.
What are the hours of operation?
The Silent Wings Museum is a municipally owned facility, open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. We are closed on Mondays. We charge an admission fee of $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for students and children ages 6 and over. For more information, visit silentwingsmuseum.com.