CLINTON — Two local businesses and the Warner Public Library greeted representatives of the upcomingPrairie Flyers exhibit on Friday as the first aviators landed in Clinton ahead of the May 28 opening event at the C.H. Moore Homestead and DeWitt County Museum.
Prairie Flyers: A century of aviation history in DeWitt County features the stories of a variety of aviators with ties to DeWitt County. World War II and Vietnam War pilots, military mechanics, commercial aviators, women pilots and crop dusters are among those included in the exhibit.
An early aviatrix reminiscent of Amelia Earhart is on display at Shear Paradise Salon on the west side of the Clinton square and Donna Anderson Gross, who lived in the Kenney area after she learned to fly at age 14, can be seen at the Harvest Mercantile on the north side of the square.
The Vespasian Warner Public Library is hosting Col. Gordon E. Hall, a World War II pilot from Wapella.
All the mannequins are dressed in period uniforms and clothing.
These three Prairie Flyers will join the other DeWitt County aviators at the museum for the May 28 public opening of the exhibit. Several of the mannequins will be wearing the actual uniforms and gear that they wore while aloft, now on loan from the pilots themselves or their family members. An extensive collection of aviation and personal memorabilia will also be on display.
In association with the exhibit at the museum, the Vespasian Warner Public Library will host a weekly speaker event each Thursday during the month of June. The events will include a panel discussion with Vietnam veterans, an evening with a female member of the Illinois Air National Guard and a talk on the legacy of Red Irwin and his Hooterville Airport.
Special aviation-related activities are planned on weekends during the exhibit.
The museum is collaborating with local aviator John Warner and professional historian Denis Hambucken, a New Hampshire author, photographer and exhibit designer. Stories for the exhibit are being compiled by local author Edith Brady-Lunny.
The exhibit will be open Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.