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You will enjoy this HAM — the Hickory Aviation Museum

11 January 2012

You will enjoy this HAM — the Hickory Aviation Museum

35º 44′ 31″ N / 81º 23′ 23″ W

The sign says it all — photo by Joseph May

Seeing the Hickory Aviation Museum for my first time was like seeing a flash of gold in the sifting pan — it was worth it. I arrived before the museum had opened but could see its aircraft exhibited on the airport apron behind the fence. There were about a dozen aircraft and a good variety of them, as well. I could also see that two were used to show cockpits — always a good idea, I think, especially for children.

It was a pleasant surprise to see a Marine Air Corps Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighters in the colors of an aggressor aircraft. One aircraft I wanted to see was the Hispaῆo HA-200 Saeta (“Arrow” when translated from Spanish) which was a jet trainer designed by Willy Messerschmitt shortly after WW II — I had not seen one before this visit.

But, I get ahead of the story.

Soon the museum was opened and I was able to see that it occupies a former area of the airport’s terminal. The room is small but artifacts and models are plentiful. Ejection seats, an arresting hook, helmets, log books, photos, expertly made models in dioramas and much more. Then out to wander about the aircraft on display — and there are many.

Parking lot view of the HAM’s aircraft — photo by Joseph May

Partial view along one of the two ranks or aircraft (F-14, T-33, FJ Fury) — photo by Joseph May

Hispano HA-200 Saeta in Spanish Air Force livery — photo by Joseph May

North American FJ -3 Fury (more powerful UK engine than the Sabre, wing leading edge refinements and a refueling boom) — photo by Joseph May

LTV A-7 Corsair II — photo by Joseph May

FedEx Fokker F-27 Friendship — photo by Joseph May

Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter as a Marine Air Corps aggressor aircraft — photo by Joseph May

This is one of those charming museums to wander about in as well as to take children. Restroom facilities are in the airport lobby and the admission cannot be beat as it is free to all. Getting there is easy enough, simply go to the Hickory Airport — signs direct you there from the town. The signs stop at the airport, however, but simply go to the end of terminal building where you will see the museum and its aircraft.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. 11 January 2012 08:21

    Hickory North Carolina is my old hometown. I think we all hold dear our hometown as I have. I am so proud of HKY, the HAM has been a long time coming and there is no taking any credit away from them in deserving it. Starting with a few aviation enthusiasts with an idea to aquire and restore a Sabre jet and form the Sabre Society, now Hickory has its own aviation museum. This is the same small municipal airport where as a seven year old kid hanging around saw a louder than usual DC 3 set down on the, then one runway, roll up to the lone terminal / hangar building, shut down and two men stepped down from the blue and white aircraft. I didn’t realize until years later the signifance of meeting the two guys in that loud DC 3. That was the day I met Captain Eddie Rickenbaker and Arthur Godfrey when they made an unscheduled, unannounced and unplanned quick personal stop at Hickory airport.

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      11 January 2012 23:07

      Your are indeed fortunate meeting those historic figures. Sadly, and tragically, the Sabre is there no longer but you are right about that wonderful project. I had the impression the Sabre Society has a chapter there to this day. The airport is a waiting niche for a regional carrier, it is modern, rental cars are present and the parking convenience cannot be beat.

  2. 11 January 2012 08:25

    To Travel for aircraft folks, I have put a link on our blog / website to your blog. check it out if it is not acceptable with you let me know and it will be removed.
    Thank you. JR Hafer, aviation writer

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      11 January 2012 23:08

      Travel for Aircraft is honored and many thanks 🙂

  3. 11 January 2012 09:59

    I did also want to say; certainly the Hickory Airport facilities have been updated since that wonderful day in 1953 of course. Hickory has a very modern new terminal building and across the way is a new large modern FBO (maybe two or more by this time) with several large hangars. Being in Race car country there are race car engine building facilities etc. and other modern facilities around the airport. Runways have been added to facilitate the many general aviation and corporate jet aircraft domiciled there. The Hickory area is a growing industrial center. There are also several large wealthy airplane collector / aviator types who live and play there. One, who when I lived there, had his own T-33, he was the talk of the town, hope he is still the 33 and his Stenson, and the other dozen or so he ownes.
    The point is Hickory airport is not some back water airstrip, it is a nice airport at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains where many people are delighted to see the beauty of the place and are “tickled” at the friendliness of the population around Hickory North Carolina and their beautiful modern airport, now their aviation museum…
    Of course I may be a little Bias, ya think?
    JR Hafer, Aviation Writer

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      11 January 2012 23:09

      I cannot agree with you more. It is modern, small, personal and convenient airport.

  4. 11 January 2012 14:42

    Thanks for this tasty helping of HAM! A very enjoyable experience……….


    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      11 January 2012 23:04

      You’re welcome. I cannot resist a pun, I’m genetically special in that way 😉

  5. 13 January 2012 08:59

    Thank you for your write-up on the Hickory airport and the Museum there. Since I’ve been gone from my beloved hometown for many years and I am not up to speed with all the “goings-on” there, though try as I might to keep my finger on the pulse of aviation, I miss a lot in the piedmont of North Carolina.
    As an aviation writer; my hat is off to your dedication Joe, keep up the great job you are doing. I’s so obvious you are driven by your deep passion for aviation. It is surely not the money ha!
    Hope we can be of help sometime. We mention you and your blog often.
    Thanks. JRH

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      13 January 2012 13:16

      It is certainly not for the money :0 LOL We should be able to help each other in the future, I’m sure. I’ll have a post about the tragic end of the F-86 project in the near future. You have the local knowledge of the airport and the town — local knowledge cannot be beat. I was there for only two hours and obtained a few facts of recent information. Thanks, Joe


  1. After one has flown, he will forever walk this earth looking skyward,for he has been there and will always long to return… | JR HAFER AVIATION BLOG.COM

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