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Wed, Jun 26, 2013

Warbird Collection Up For Sale

Military Aviation Museum Near VA Beach May Be Force To Close

One of the largest collections of WWI and WWII aircraft in the world is up for sale, according to the collection's owner, and the future of the Military Aviation Museum in Pungo, VA is in serious question.

Gerald Yagen is the owner of the collection and the operator of the museum in the small town in southeast VA. He told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper Monday that he has been subsidizing the museum heavily every year, and his business is no longer in a position to provide that support.

Yagen owned four vocational trade schools, including the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, Centura College and Tidewater Tech. He told the paper that they had recently been acquired by another business, but did not elaborate.

Yagen has been assembling the collection for years, according to the paper, restoring the warbirds to flyable condition. He opened the museum in 2008, and has continually expanded the facility. Most recently, he added a two-story British air tower first built in 1941 which he had shipped to the U.S. "piece-by-piece." Another recent acquisition was the last flying de Havilland Mosquito.

City officials said they were surprised by Yagen's announcement. Councilman Bob Dyer called the museum "one of the jewels of Virginia Beach."

Yagen said there are nine groups who have expressed an interest in acquiring his airplanes, though he said he doesn't know how many he owns. He estimates the collection at about 50 aircraft. He has sold two so far, a Boeing B-17 heavy bomber, and a Focke-Wulf 190.

FMI: www.militaryaviationmuseum.org

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