Out of the Museum

Don’t forget Lincoln has an airport

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Where: Beermann Plaza at 640 5th St.

When: Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays

Free: Donations always accepted

This week’s mystery item has two questions. Who is the beloved man in the photo and what is he holding?

Here’s a not-very-helpful hint: longtime Lincoln residents will know both answers! Please send answers to Looking forward to seeing those answers and learning more about Lincoln’s people and everyday items.


Last week’s mystery item

For last week’s Out of the Museum, two residents knew the mystery item’s purpose.

Dean Brumley: “It looks like an old runway light. Probably came from our airport.”

Michael Gove: “It looks like one of the old runway lights from the Lincoln airport.”

Yes, they were right.

For those residents who don’t know that Lincoln has an airport, we do. The Lincoln Regional Airport is at 1480 Flightline Drive in the western part of Lincoln.

In 2013, Erin Turpin brought in a number of interesting items from the Lincoln Regional Airport to loan to the Lincoln Area Archives Museum. Among the items was the runway’s landing light.

The base names T. J. Gardner, San Leandro, as the manufacturer of at least the base.  There are no other markings. 

Lincoln’s airfield was constructed in 1942 by the U. S. Army Air Corps to serve as an auxiliary training field during World War II.  The airfield was called Lincoln Auxiliary Field-Mather Flying School.

The airfield was eventually deeded to the city of Lincoln.

Rick Harder told the Lincoln Area Archives Museum docents that his family moved into the field’s barracks in 1962 and his father, Karl Harder, became airport director. 

Harder said that his father constructed an ingenious, simulated airplane from 50-gallon barrels attached to each other with a tail and a large white “T.”  The “T” swiveled and attached were runway lights to show pilots which way the wind was blowing so they could land into the wind. At night, Rick Harder, his mother and sisters would replace burnt-out bulbs with new bulbs.

Karl Harder offered a flying service from 1962 to 1974. On Sept. 20, 1997, the city designated the Lincoln Regional Airport as C. Karl Harder Field.  A story of C. Karl Harder was written by his daughter, Marie, and a copy is in the museum.

The Lincoln Area Archives Museum is at 640 Fifth St. in downtown Lincoln.

- Carol Feineman