Expo to shine light on The Glen’s naval history
For more information
Updated: November 12, 2012 6:07AM
GLENVIEW — With its statues and myriad plaques, shoppers at The Glen Town Center aren’t likely to escape the shopping hub’s connection with the former Naval Air Station Glenview.
However, not many may be able to explain the role it played in World War II.
To that end, the Naval Air Station Glenview Expo and Celebration will be held Sat., Oct. 13 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Navy Park by the NASG tower.
The event, organized by “Bring It Home, Glenview” and Glenview Hangar One Foundation, will raise awareness of the land’s history. It also will include a discussion of ongoing efforts to establish a museum and aviation-based learning center on a five-acre parcel purchased by the village in 2007 for civic and green purposes.
Part of the museum would house a World War II era plane recovered from Lake Michigan.
A recovery operation started in the 1980s by two Chicago-area men, Taras Lyssenko and Alan Olson, has salvaged than 40 aircraft that originated at the Glenview air base. The planes ended up at the bottom of the lake during aircraft carrier qualification training from 1942 to 1945.
The training missions, which qualified more than 17,000 fighter, dive-bomber and torpedo-bomber pilots, was largely successful. However, more than 140 planes ended up in the drink after overrunning makeshift runways built atop two converted passenger liners, renamed the USS Wolverine and the USS Sable, which were docked at Navy Pier.
“The decks were small, and the pilots weren’t given a whole lot of training,” said Lyssenko, co-founder of A&T recovery, the company that executes the recovery missions. “But the mission was very successful because it produced a lot of good pilots, and it helped us win the war by having a superior number of fighter planes.”
There were few casualties during the training period because the pilots who crashed were immediately plucked out of the lake by nearby crash boats.
All the planes recovered from Lake Michigan are owned by the U.S. Navy, and are shipped to the naval air station in Pensacola, Fla. to be displayed at the National Aviation Museum.
A&T recovery is pushing to obtain one of the planes to be displayed as an educational exhibit at the proposed Glenview naval museum.
“Glenview played an important part of the greatest generation’s efforts and success in preserving our freedom,” Lyssenko said. “The people of Glenview are standing on a piece of land that made U.S. history, and when I ask someone what the significance of the tower is, they say they don’t know.”
NASG Expo are hoping to erase the general lack of knowledge of the air station’s history, said Kristin Bergen, lead organizer of Bring It Home, Glenview.
“We want to get the information out there so that people realize how credible the history of the air base is,” Bergen said. “Our goal is to raise awareness and show support for a Glenview aviation museum, and if we get the plane it will be the only one that is returned to its home base here in Glenview.”
The NASG Expo will kick-off with a 30-minute block-dedication ceremony to pay tribute to community members who have made donations to Hangar One Foundation. A&T Recovery representatives will talk about the process of pulling up planes from the lake, and historian Beverly Dawson, an expert on NASG history, will hold a book sale and signing.
The event is free and open to the public, and children can take home a mini World War II plane.
For more information, visit www.bringithomeglenview.org.