Connecticut Air & Space Receives Large Donation of Tools to Help Restoration Projects Continue


Tool Donor, Rich Sommers and Museum President, Eugene Madara

The Connecticut Air & Space Center has received a quite generous gift of tools. All sorts and sizes, from simple screwdrivers to a 3500 psi gas powered powerwasher.  The museums benefactor, Rich Sommers, a local home improvement owner, suffering from ALS, donated most of his life long tool collection to CASC this August.

The tools were from his home improvement business although some of the older tools were handed down from his father and other family members.  Many of the older tools dated to the turn of the last century and have been incorporated in to our  Gustave Whitehead display.

Mr. Sommers was recognized this week in a small personal award presentation at his home by the museum president and several members.  The museum thanks Mr. Sommers for his generous donation and can assure him that his donation will put to great use with our many restoration projects underway.

About Rich Sommers
Rich Sommers  grew up in Fairfield and graduated with an associate’s degree from the Connecticut School of Electronics.

During the first half of his career, he applied his extensive knowledge of electronics, chemistry and physics toward advancements in the field of optics. After working as a trouble shooter and manager of the Optical Coating Laboratory at Fish-Schurman Corporation of New York, he spent 18 years at Innotech Corporation in Trumbull, CT as laboratory manager responsible for the design and development of processes for glass-silicon devices.

Charlie & Bob with Mr. Sommers. Charlie & Bob were instrumental in coordinating the donation.

Charlie & Bob with Mr. Sommers. Charlie & Bob were instrumental in coordinating the donation.

Among his achievements, Rich made the optical filter system which sent the first color television pictures from the moon on the Apollo Mission. At Fish-Schurman he was responsible for the manufacturing of laser coatings, dichroics, special conductive transparent films and custom coatings. And while with Innotech, he contributed extensively to the National Science Foundation Solar Cell Program. Many of the processes he developed for these companies are still used today.

After Innotech closed, Richard changed careers to start his own home improvement company, “Sommers Services.” Focusing primarily on residences in Fairfield County, he enjoyed working with homeowners, many of whom quickly became loyal customers – a testament to his skills, his warm and outgoing personality, and his conscientious work ethic. Rich will always be remembered for his eager curiosity and love of learning. His patient persistence and interest in finding answers to solve any type of challenge, whether large or small, was a trademark — both professionally and in everyday life.

Rich also has a very spiritual side and through his faith he supported others as a prayer group leader in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal at St Thomas Church in Fairfield for 30 years. Within this prayer group he also had a Visitation Ministry going to Southport Manor in Fairfield and Sylvan Manor in Bridgeport. For the last seven years, he has been active in the St. Laurence Prayer Group in Shelton, CT.

Rich’s brother Joe Sommers is world famous for his movie making and videography skills at UTC / Sikorsky Aircraft.

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Curtiss Hangar Restoration Project Status Report 8/7/15

Sikorsky Memorial Airport as of August 2015 - Image Courtesy of FOSA

Sikorsky Memorial Airport as of August 2015. Major renovations happening!- Image Courtesy of FOSA

Connecticut Air & Space Center’s Curtiss Hangar Restoration Project has made significant progress since signing the Lease with the City of Bridgeport to restore and occupy the historic hanger approximately a year ago. The State of Connecticut has confirmed its agreement to CASC’s request that the original State funds grant awarded over a decade ago be “re-purposed” to the restoration of the Curtiss Hangar. CASC has also been able to obtain from the State a general waiver of certain coastal floodplain requirements which could have made the Restoration Project financially unfeasible. Similarly, CASC has been able to obtain from the State historic preservation authorities authorization to make use of modern and environmentally “green” materials in connection with the restoration rather than compelling the use of 1920’s materials as originally used in the construction of the Hangar. Requisite environmental sampling and testing of the Hangar site has been completed and the analysis has determined no adverse environmental conditions at the site.

The City of Bridgeport has generously agreed to provide substantial “in-kind” assistance to CASC during both the restoration and CASC’s subsequent occupation of the Hangar throughout the term of the Lease, a contribution considerably positively impacting the financial feasibility of the Project. Additionally, the City has made a substantial financial contribution to the Project in connection with the restored Hangar being the new, environmentally-protected home of the City’s FG-1D Corsair aircraft, the official State of Connecticut airplane. The fact that the Corsair was designed and manufactured in what is now termed the “Stratford Army Engine Plant” on Main Street in the Town and tested and flown from the City’s now termed “Igor Sikorsky Memorial Airport” from the Curtiss Hangar and its adjacent historic counterpart “Blue Sky Hangar” makes CASC’s Curtiss Hangar Restoration Project a unique opportunity to preserve Connecticut’s and the world’s aviation history.

The Town of Stratford has not only generously made a substantial financial Block Grant contribution to the Project but also tasked its government finance and building projects experts with lending to CASC their considerable expertise in the selection of qualified architects, engineers and historic restoration specialists. Together with the Town experts, the Project Team has interviewed and evaluated such qualified firms and Invitations to Bid will be issued shortly in anticipation of structure assessment, remediation and preservation work beginning relatively near term.

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Connecticut Air & Space Center Curtiss Hangar Groundbreaking Ceremony May 19, 2015

CHR_tombstone-(1) Mark your calendars for May 19, 2015!

The Connecticut Air & Space Center will be conducting a ceremony to announce the beginning of the restoration of the historic Curtiss Hangar located at the Igor I Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford.

We would like to invite you to join us for the ceremony on May 19, 2015 at the site of the Curtiss Hangar. The event will start at 12 noon with the arrival of Yankee Lady, a vintage World War II B-17 bomber. The Igor I Sikorsky Memorial Airport Corsair being restored by Connecticut Air & Space Center will also be on display.

Free parking will be available close to the Hangar on Main Street. The will be no admission charge to attend the ceremony. Light refreshments will be served at the conclusion of the ceremony across the street at the Connecticut Air & Space Center (18 and over).

If you have questions regarding the event please email us at

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World War Two B-17 “Yankee Lady” Prepares for Barnstorming Bridgeport-Stratford

Yankee Lady Bridgeprot stratfordApril 27, 2015— Yankee Lady, the meticulously restored World War II Boeing B-17G heavy bomber will be flying into Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport, Stratford Connecticut and Three Wing Aviation on Monday, May 18.  The estimated time of arrival is 11:00 a.m. This Flying Fortress, the historic four-engine flagship of the Yankee Air Museum based at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan, will be available for tours and Flight Experience (FLEX) rides the entire afternoon and through Wednesday, May 20.

“We’re really excited to have this aircraft operate from our base,” exclaimed Jared Gowlis of Three Wing Aviation. “The fact that Yankee Lady is one of only nine Forts still flying puts an exclamation point on it.”

Gowlis explained that Three Wing Aviation is always interested in having significant attractions saying this appearance by Yankee Lady will keep interest high and eyes skyward reminding people there are cool things going on at their airport.

The Yankee Lady appearance in this the 70th Anniversary year of the end of World War II also coincides with special events being planned by the Connecticut Air and Space Center, located near the airport.  The Center has recently leased a WWII era Curtiss Hangar and will be restoring it.

“We’re planning a brief ribbon cutting and the Yankee Lady will taxi into the ceremony and park alongside the Corsair we’re restoring,” said Ed McGuinness, Treasurer of the Connecticut Air and Space Center.  “It will be a moment to remember and I’m sure it’ll be a great photo opportunity.”

McGuinness explained the significance of the B-17 was its mission to bomb strategic targets in daylight precision raids.  Some airstrikes would have up to 1000 planes flying in waves over enemy industrial targets. This campaign, he says, crippled the enemy’s ability to make war and helped liberate Europe.

“As a late G-model, our Flying Fortress was originally delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force on July 16, 1945 with natural metal finish,” said Norm Ellickson, B-17 Crew Chief.  “Recently, we washed off the grime that accumulates during the winter maintenance cycle.  Then we had the 20th Annual Bomber Buffing and about 300 people came out to help us.  This massive effort combining elbow grease with Mothers ™ Aluminum Polish gives the Lady’s skin a mirror-like shine.”

Ellickson said it’s impossible to keep planes like the Yankee Lady B-17 in pristine condition without community support at home and everywhere they fly.  He credits local Stratford resident and aircraft enthusiast Nancy Cole with superstar efforts to enlist sponsors to help make the Bridgeport-Stratford mission possible.

“We carry a crew of ten volunteers to conduct flight operations,” said Ellickson. “We burn 200 gallons of high octane aviation fuel an hour, and the cost of spare parts is amazing.  Having meals, rooms and ground transportation sponsored helps us hold the line on our flight experience prices.”

Ellickson thanks the Windsock Restaurant for lunch on Monday and Knapps Landing for dinner.  He also thanks Stanziele’s Restaurant for hosting the crew for dinner on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The Hampton Inn is providing much appreciated ground transportation, breakfast and lodging.

“These sponsors are telling us that living history is important.  They’re invested in honoring the legacy of World War II Veterans and America’s Greatest Generation and we are too,” continued Ellickson. “Their support means the donations we receive can be invested back into the airplane, to keep her flying.” Ellickson said ground tours cost $5.00 for adults aged 15 and above; $2.00 for kids aged 6 to 15 and all others are free.  A ride is a 45-minute experience with approximately 30 minutes of flight time and costs $450.00.  To order a B-17 FLEX ride or to obtain a gift certificate, call 734-483-4030, extension 236.


About Yankee Air Museum:  Established in 1981, the Yankee Air Museum is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization located on the grounds of historic Willow Run Airport in Michigan. For more information about YAM call 734-483-4030 or visit the website.  For a 90 second video glimpse into a FLEX Ride aboard our aircraft visit:

About Three Wing Aviation:  Located at Bridgeport Sikorsky Memorial Airport (West Ramp/General Aviation Parking) 400 Great Meadow Road, Stratford, CT 06615 and founded in 1974 by Andy Pothanszky, Three Wing Aviation has been providing aircraft rental, flight instruction, fuel sales and aircraft maintenance ever since. In July of 2012 Jared Gowlis, Anthony DiNuzzo and Robert Russo took over ownership of Three Wing as Three Wing Aviation, LLC.   For more information, visit the website.

About the Connecticut Air & Space Center:  Located in Stratford, near Sikosrky Memorial Airport, the Connecticut Air & Space Center is a 501 (c)(3) charitable corporation dedicated to honoring the pioneers of early aviation, restoring and preserving examples of the aircraft they flew, and educating current and future generations about Connecticut’s unique aviation heritage.  For more information, visit the website.

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USMC Sikorsky Airpower


Dropping In U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jamean Berry/Released


U.S. Marines with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force fast-rope from an  Sikorsky MH-60R during maritime interoperability training off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., Jan. 16, 2015. The training prepares the Marines for their upcoming deployment by enhancing their combat skills, and teaching them techniques for boarding vessels.


 Special Delivery U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Evan R. White/Released


Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), assigned to the combat cargo division of the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), secure a pallet during an underway replenishment aboard the Makin Island, Jan. 6, 2014. The 11th MEU is deployed with Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group as a theater reserve and crisis response force throughout U.S. Central Command and 5th Fleet area of responsibility.


Home Sweet Home  U.S. Marine Corps photos by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan/Released



Marines with Golf Company, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), off-load from a CH-53E Super Stallion with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced), 11th MEU, aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), Dec. 12. The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit are deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.






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Two Roads 3rd Annual Igor Day was a Great Success!


Our team had a wonderful day at Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford.  We appreciated Brad Hittle,  Two Roads management and staff for allowing and accommodating us so we could be a part of the event, celebrating one of aviation’s true pioneer’s, Igor I Sikorsky.  Igor Sikorsky’s sons as well as Two Roads Brewmaster Phil Markowski were there to sign bottles and autographs.  Most amazingly of all, Two Roads Brewing Company is donating 10% of the bar proceeds to go to the Connecticut Air and Space Center’s Hangar Restoration fund.

A Huge,Huge, Thank You from all of us at the Connecticut Air & Space Center to the guys and gals at Two Roads Brewing Company! It’s good to know when you decide to take the “road less traveled” that we have great friends to share it with.

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3rd Bottle Release of Igor Sikorsky’s Imperial Stout at the Two Roads Brewing Company on Saturday January 24th

10922429_584497434984761_1703600647390804760_nThe Connecticut Air & Space Center has been invited to attend the 3rd Bottle Release of Igor Sikorsky’s Imperial Stout at the Two Roads Brewing Company on Saturday January 24th. Doors open @ 11 am. Bottle sales will start at noon. There will be a coffee and breakfast truck outside selling their products. Two Roads have also requested a small display on the Curtiss Hanger Renovation Project at which we will show our project to the public and collect donations. The Sikorsky Archives will also have a nice display where in the past one of Igor’s sons signed your bottles or books.

If you have time on Saturday the 24th please try to attend and support Two Roads. We have attended the previous years and really enjoyed it! Two Roads has supported the Connecticut Air & Space Center and have bigger plans for their support this coming year! So lets have a good showing to return the favor!

Thank You
Hope to see you there!!!!

Two Roads Brewing Company
1700 Stratford Ave Stratford CT 06615

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