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The Historic Aviation Memorial Museum

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The Largest Collections of Enemy Aircraft Recognition Models in The World

Written and Photographed by Lynn Dark

How often do you hear, “There’s nothing to do in Tyler?” How often have you said it? I think we often forget about our local treasures, “because we live here.” One such gem can be found at the “old” airport. The Historic Aviation Memorial Museum (HAMM) is located at 150 Airport Drive, inside the old terminal.

HAMM attracts between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors a year, some coming from as far away as Europe. With 7,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space, and 12 airplanes on the tarmac, the museum can easily keep you occupied for hours.

I recently met with Carolyn Verver, president of HAMM’s board of directors, in order to learn about the museum and its history. HAMM was founded by a group of Tyler men formerly attached to the Confederate Air Force (now known as the Commemorative Air Force, or CAF), a group committed to preserving historic military aircraft. The Tyler chapter of the CAF was called the Lone Star Wing.

While performing at an airshow in 1984, the group’s PBY Catalina crashed, killing seven Tylerites and destroying the aircraft. The remaining members of the group stayed close and eventually decided that even though they no longer had a plane, they had a hangar and a great deal of memorabilia to put in it. The museum opened to the public in 1990, and moved to its current location inside the old terminal building in 2007.

The old hangar is now used for the restoration of aircraft and the storage of excess memorabilia. People have donated so many items to the museum that there is no longer enough space to display it all. Currently, HAMM will only accept donations that are aviation related. In the beginning, they received a great deal of non-aviation war memorabilia, particularly from World War II.

HAMM exhibits document the history of aviation from its beginning to the space age. There are sections devoted to the beginning of flight, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, women in aviation, civilian aviation, and the space age. Additionally, there are two flight simulators inside the museum.

One example of items you can see at HAMM is a Nazi flag captured by a Tyler native in battle during World War II. Upon close inspection, you will see three bullet holes and faint blood stains on the flag.

One of HAMM’s founding members, Elmer Dixson, was the chief officer of a photo reconnaissance division during World War II. Included in his many contributions to the museum are the before and after photographs of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The only other copies belong to the United States government.

HAMM has one of the largest collections of enemy aircraft recognition models in the world. Both pilots and civilians were trained with these models. Pilots needed to be able to recognize enemy aircraft in the heat of battle and civilians needed to alert authorities if these planes crossed our borders.

The military uniforms of several of the museum’s founders are exhibited in various sections of the museum, along with many other military and civilian uniforms. HAMM even has a Russian space suit.

The military aircraft on display just outside the museum are leased from the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps. They are all static, meaning that they are not in flying condition. However, the museum is still required to maintain them. These planes are rotated in and out periodically.

Upon entering and exiting the museum, you pass by a very well-stocked gift shop. You can find everything from scale and diecast models, model kits, and puzzles to magnets and dolls. There are t-shirts, sweatshirts, military ball caps, hat pins, books, environmentally friendly shopping bags, and many more items to choose from.

The museum contains a library which is open to anyone interested in aviation research. With its proximity to the new terminal, a convenient meeting room can be rented for a small fee. The lobby also provides a convenient venue for larger events.

HAMM hosts a one week aviation camp for kids from 12 to 14 years old during the summer. This year’s camp is tentatively scheduled for July 22nd – July 26th. The cost is $100 and space is limited. Spots are reserved on a first come, first served basis. Education is HAMM’s primary goal, but don’t think that means it is just for kids. Anyone interested in aviation and its role in military history should definitely check it out.

The cost of admission to HAMM is $5 for an adult, $4 for seniors 65 and over, $3 for teens and $2 for children 6-12. There is no admission fee for children under 6. Group rates are available for parties of 10 or more. Admission for active duty military personnel with ID is free. Memberships are available at $40 for an individual, $75 for a family, and $400 for an individual lifetime membership. Benefits for membership include free admission to most events, discounts in the gift shop, and tax-deductible dues. Volunteer opportunities are available.

HAMM sponsored the air show at Pounds Field in 2011 and there are plans for another air show in 2015. The museum is supported through fundraisers, memberships, donations, and admission fees. The museum operates on a fall-winter and spring-summer schedule. Beginning April 1st, HAMM will be open Tuesday – Saturday from 10am to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.

For more information about HAMM, the aviation camp, or upcoming events, you can visit the aviation museum’s website at www.tylerhamm.org, or call (903)526-1945.

Downtown Tyler

Hit the Bricks July 11th: ‘Arachnids’ Opens, Online Concerts & Cool Masks

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For the month of July, Hit the Bricks will be partially online with all restaurants and stores reopen to the public. Follow Downtown Tyler and Hit the Bricks on Facebook for updates and more information.

And don’t forget your mask – help end this madness and wear a mask when out in public! Get a cool one at Brands & Threads Apparel Co., now located at 316 S. Broadway (across the street from their old location). Check out their cool stuff at their new store or at facebook.com/BrandsandThreads. They are open 9am-1pm.

Show your support for Tyler’s businesses by being part of Visit Tyler’s Rose City Strong campaign. Purchase Rose City Strong gear and download the Rose City Strong Facebook profile frame. Go to your Facebook page and select “Update Profile Photo,” then select “Add a Frame” and search for Rose City Strong.

Activities

Gallery Main Street is now open inside the new atrium at Plaza Tower and a new art exhibit by John Deaton will be on display. All art is available for purchase. The gallery is open to the public 11am-11:30pm.

Discovery Science Place, located at 308 N. Broadway, will be opening the newest exhibit “The Art and Science of Arachnids” 10am-5pm. Visitors will explore the largest traveling arachnid display in North America as they discover human-arachnid cultural connections through hands-on activities like building robots, conducting science experiments, creating your own arachnid art, and more. The exhibit also displays 100 live arachnids – including endangered species like the Tiger tarantula and Mexican Red Knee tarantula, alien-looking tailless whip scorpions, and beautiful Peacock tarantulas and Sun Tiger tarantulas! (All safely enclosed in their habitats of course!

Tyler Public Library, located at 201 S. College, has re-open its doors with modified operating hours of Monday-Friday from 10am-5pm. The Library will be allowing up to 30 patrons at a time and continuing to hold modified operations. Library facilities have been modified to encourage social distancing. Call (903)593-7323 to speak to a member of the Library staff. And don’t forget to log your summer reading or sign up for the Summer Reading Challenge at tpl.beanstack.org! The challenge continues through July 31st. Children and teens who read 12 hours earn a FREE book and t-shirt and are eligible for other rewards. Adults who read 8 books receive a FREE tote bag and may select a FREE book from the Library’s Book Nook.

And don’t forget that the Tyler Library just added another Grab and Go Kit for you to enjoy. This FREE kit has supplies for making a heart-shaped bird feeder with a pipe cleaner and cheerios. You can pick this and other Makerspace Grab and Go kits at the Makerspace table inside the Library.

Urban Deaux Candle Co. & Mercantile Store and 903 Closet, located at 317 S. Bois D’Arc Ave.will be offering two candle-pouring classes – “Paint, Sip & Pour” at 3pm and 6pm. Sign up at facebook.com/pg/urbandeauxcandle/.

Liberty Hall is celebrating its 90th anniversary! Join them on Facebook Live for “Liberty Live: Concerts from the Couch.” The lineup is: 11-11:30am: Cody Norman; 11:30am-12 noon: Covenant Olatunde; 12 noon-12:30pm: Lucas Kelm; and 12:30-1pm: 2nd Childhood.

Watch KLTV’sOne Texas: Songs from Home” concert.

The Joanitones at ETX Brewing from 8-10pm. There is no cover and all ages are welcome as well as your four-legged friends.

Restaurants

1948 Coffee & Juice Co. is now open offering a full espresso bar, cold-pressed juices, smoothie bowls, vegan eats, organic and gluten-free options, and more! Also, downtown’s Urban Market, which is in 1948 Coffee’s area, offers goods and food from all over the world.

Andy’s Frozen Custard, located at 110 S. College Ave., is open 11am-12 midnight.

Black Pearl, located at 106 W. Erwin St., is still closed however their Food Menu & Cocktails are available at Ricks on the Square after 4pm.

Culture ETX, located at 118 W. Erwin St., is open from 5-10pm.

Don Juan on The Square, located at 113 E. Erwin St., is open 11am-9pm.

The Foundry Coffee House, located at 202 S. Broadway Ave., is open 7am-6pm. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Porch at  ETX Brewery, located at 221 S. Broadway Ave., is open 11am-11:30pm. They offer beer to-go too!

SportsZone, located at 115 E. Erwin St., is open at 3pm-1am.

Rhea’s Hot Links, located at 204 S. Fannin St., is open from 9am-5:30pm. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Rick’s on the Square, located at 104 W. Erwin St., is open 4pm-1am.

Tapatio’s Grill Chicken, located at 614 W. Valentine St., is open 10am-11pm.

True Vine on the Square, located 110 S. College Ave. Suite 102, is open 4-8pm. They offer beer to-go too by an individualized Pick Six option. Pick six 12oz cans or six 16oz cans or two 12oz and four 16oz, or three of each, the limit does not exist (well okay it exists up to 288 ounces per day, but you get it.) Order online or in-person for pickup. Be sure to try the new “Galactic Minotaurt Gose” variation – total cucumber and watermelon yumminess!

There are usually a few Food Trucks hanging around Downtown as well so there’s no excuse to leave hungry with all of the dining options because in Downtown you can have your cake and eat it too.

Shopping

Backbone Hair + Beauty, located at 235 S. Broadway, is open 9am-5pm. Get a stylish new hairdo along with experiencing a downtown jibe in this hip new hair salon. They also sell a line of cool t-shirts and hair products.

Brands & Threads Apparel Co. is now located at 316 S. Broadway (across the street from their old location). Check out their cool stuff at their new store or at facebook.com/BrandsandThreads. They are open 9am-1pm. And to note, they are offering VERY COOL custom-made masks too!

Cindy’s Balloons, located at 301 E. Elm St., is open from 9am-5pm.

Moss: Where Flowers are Fair, located at 237 S. Broadway Ave., is open 10am-3pm.

Salvation Army Thrift Shop, is open to treasure and bargain hunters alike. They are located at 723 N. Broadway, open 10am-5pm.

Urban Deaux Candle Co. & Mercantile Store and 903 Closet is located at 317 S. Bois D’Arc Ave. and open 11am-6pm.

Ye Olde City Antiques is open again at 302 E. Locust after a recent fire took out part of their showroom. They will offer hidden bricks with discounts for all Hit the Brick shoppers.

Museums & More

Take a virtual tour of the Goodman LeGrand House and Museum while listening to the audio tour from our Roses and Weeds podcast. The museum is open for visitors 11am-4pm. Capacity limit of 5 visitors at a time.

Smith County Historical Society is open by appointments only.

Gallery Main Street is now located in the lobby of Plaza Tower. Go to DowntownTyler.org to view and purchase artwork in the current exhibit.

More Info

Hit the Bricks is held rain or shine, cold or hot, and even amid pandemics. Help us support our local Downtown businesses during this time. For more information, visit the event on Facebook or download the FREE app “EGuide Tyler TX.”

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Family

TJC Science Center features New Dome Show & Private Screenings

The Tyler Junior College Earth and Space Science Center featuring Hudnall Planetarium is offering a new dome show on how we see — plus an option to reserve the theater for a private screening.

Narrated by renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, “Seeing! A Photon’s Journey” takes the audience on an exploration of the life of a photon. The 22-minute, full-immersion planetarium show uses hemispheric 2D and 3D animations and video to teach how human vision works.

Imagery from all over the world — including humanity, landscapes, skyscapes, wildlife and space — provides the backdrop for photo-realistic animations that create the story of a photon’s journey through the human eye and its conversion to an electrochemical impulse that travels the neural pathways from the brain to the various centers that create the image the brain sees.

“Audiences will be amazed by this show and how technology has enabled us to restore vision and prevent a variety of diseases that affect sight,” said Dr. Beau Hartweg, TJC science center director.

Daily shows and showtimes are:

  • 11 a.m. — Children’s Show
  • 12:15 p.m. — “Space Park 360”
  • 1:30 p.m. — “Seeing! A Photon’s Journey”
  • 2:45 p.m. — “The Hot and Energetic Universe”
  • 4 p.m. — “The Sun, Our Living Star”

Individual tickets are $3 per person, and advance online reservations are required. Policies and procedures have been modified for the health and safety of science center visitors, and guests are advised to review the guidelines on the website before their visit. The dome theater is thoroughly cleaned between each showing.

On Tuesdays through Fridays throughout the summer, guests can reserve a private screening in the planetarium during the 9:45 a.m. timeslot. For a $25 flat fee, up to 15 visitors can enjoy a private viewing of any one of the shows from the center’s existing library.

To purchase advance tickets and review the health and safety guidelines, go to sciencecenter.tjc.edu.

The science center is located at 1411 E. Lake St., on the TJC main campus. Operating hours are 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays, and private screening showtimes are 9:45 a.m. Tuesdays-Fridays. Parking is free.

For more information, go to sciencecenter.tjc.edu.

More To Do The Science Center This Summer

The summer schedule is June 22-August 29. This summer we have some exciting new additions, along with discounted summer rates of just $3 tickets!
First, TJC’s Science Center is offering private show screenings at 9:45am Tuesday-Friday for those guests who would like the option to reserve the planetarium for their family and friends. For $25 (or $20 for members, please call for discount code) you may reserve our planetarium theater for up to 15 people. You can select any one of our planetarium shows from the show library to enjoy with just your family and friends. Selections include children’s shows, live narrated presentations, documentary-style movies, as well as music and holiday shows.
This summer TJC’s Science Center is also premiering our brand new show, “Seeing! A Photon’s Journey.” Join famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as he takes you on a journey exploring the life of a photon. Discover how the eye works, how technology has enabled us to restore vision and prevent a variety of diseases that affect sight in the show “Seeing”.
TJC’s Science Center is also thrilled to bring back our popular Space Park 360 show. This is a thrilling 9-ride show that takes audiences on a wild immersive ride through the Solar System while recreating the experience of amusement park thrill rides—roller coasters, pendulums, inverters and more.
And rest assured that they are continuing to follow health and safety guidelines and recommendations, with spread-out seating in the planetarium, ample cleaning in between shows, and social distancing markers. We also require that all tickets be purchased online for a contactless payment process.

More Info

The science center is located at 1411 E. Lake St., on the TJC main campus. Operating hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. Parking is free.

For more information, go to sciencecenter.tjc.edu.

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Free Stuff

Get Outside: Tyler Parks, Trails & SplashPads Are Open

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Tyler area parks and trails are NOW open to the public! We ask that anyone visiting the parks and trails carry hand sanitizer with them. Washing hands and wiping off any equipment before and after use can also help prevent the spread of germs and other harmful bacteria. Residents and visitors should continue to practice social distancing and follow all recommended CDC guidelines. As always, if you, your child, or someone in your home is sick or at higher risk for infection, please stay home.

If you have any questions about park facilities or to report a maintenance issue with a splashpad, please call Parks Admin at (903) 531-1370.

  • Bergfeld Park Splashpad – Opens Monday, June 8. Admission: FREE, 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. everyday
  • Faulkner Park Splashpad – Opens Monday, June 8, Admission: FREE, 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. everyday
  • Fun Forest Pool & Splashpad – Opening June 2020! For more information, visit the Fun Forest Pool webpage. Admission: FREE
  • Woldert Splashpad – Opening Soon! Admission: FREE, Open 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. Everyday

Splashpad Activation

The City of Tyler’s conservation initiatives involves reducing the use of potable water at the splashpads. In order to reduce consumption, the splashpad is on a timer which must be reactivated every 5 to 10 minutes depending on the facility. To activate the splashpad during open hours, you must hit the activation pad.

  • Faulkner Park Splashpad– Touch to activate pad near splashpad.
  • Bergfeld Park Splashpad – Step to activate pad near the bench.

Summer Feeding Program

The Tyler Parks and Recreation Department along with East Texas Food Bank will host a 10-week Summer Curbside Feeding Program. During this time, Parks and Rec Staff will be distributing weekly activity kits to take home and enjoy. Our goal is to keep providing nutritious meals to the children in our community, along with giving opportunities to have some fun activities to do.

Dates: June 1 – Aug. 7

Locations: Glass Recreation Center, Gassaway Park, and Winters Park.

Time:  Lunch: Noon – 1 p.m. at all locations. Breakfast and lunch will be available at Glass Recreation Center during the lunch hour.

Weekly Summer Activities Kits: Activity fun kits will be distributed each Monday to all kids during lunch between 12 – 1 p.m. Kits will consist a variety of art and crafts projects for kids to do at home.

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