Colorado Museum Wins Award for Children’s Aviation History Programs

By Penny Rafferty Hamilton, Ph.D.

It is never too early to encourage aviation! Photo by Penny Hamilton.

Grand County Historical Association Emily Warner Field Aviation Museum, located in the historic Rocky Mountain Airways former airline terminal on Granby/Grand County Airport, just won the statewide 2018 History Colorado Caroline Bancroft Award for their children’s aviation history programs. This prestigious annual State History award, is given by History Colorado to the organization or museum in a Colorado Community with a population of less than 50,000. The Caroline Bancroft Award recognizes history accomplishments which provide a venue to share unique history. This recognition and a monetary award was given to Emily Warner Field Aviation Museum children and youth aviation history programs.

Named for Granby’s historic aviator, Emily Howell Warner, America’s first female airline captain, the local museum is staffed with all volunteers. Open every Friday and Saturday from 11AM to 2PM, June 1 through August 31, 2019 is a perfect opportunity to visit this unique local museum. Fly-in, drive or even bicycle to this free and family-friendly attraction.

The Fantasy of Flight Foundation donated flight simulators to the Emily Warner Field Aviation museum which are used by all age groups. Photo by Penny Hamilton.

Local volunteers greet summer visitors and share the important contributions of Grand County residents to our aviation history, from World War I, II, Korean War and Vietnam to local aviation pioneers, who built and improved the airport. Because Emily began her airline career in 1973 with Frontier Airlines, several exhibits reflect that aviation heritage, including an original Flight Attendant uniform and a replica of Warner’s airline captain uniform because her original is in the Smithsonian.

Also, Rocky Mountain Airways provided airline service to Granby through the years 1973-79. In fact, they donated their airline terminal to Grand County which now is home to the aviation museum and extensive, local aviation education programs of the volunteers of Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1267.

The preservation of Grand County Aviation History began in the summer of 2015 with the unveiling of the Granby Airport Pioneers Wall of Fame. Partnering with local organizations as the Friends of the Library, a Fantasy of Flight room for youth and children of all ages was opened in 2016. “Our Aviation Museum Volunteers place emphasis on interaction and introduction of our unique Colorado history early and often. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, ‘Aviation history education is not filling a young mind with stale facts but igniting a fire for learning and experiencing more!’” explained museum co-founder, Dr. Bill Hamilton.

Grand County Historical Association Aviation Museum volunteers encourage hands-on activity for young visitors as a balsa wood spot landing contest. Then, talking about lift and drag, and even gravity makes a lot more sense instead of abstract concepts. Photo by Penny Hamilton.

The Emily Warner Field Aviation Museum achieves this lofty goal through pre-school aviation history adventure days, children’s pretend “dress up like a pilot” area, a children’s aviation history reading area, and historic re-enactment of aviation events with a Grand County connection. Children’s aviation history toys, even a Barbie Doll dressed as Captain Emily Warner, are meant to be interactive. The Fantasy of Flight Foundation donated flight simulators which are used by all age groups.

Because Colorado holds a unique aviation history, the Emily Warner Field Aviation Museum volunteers focus on that important element of community in their acceptance and display of aviation artifacts which must have a Grand County connection. “Knowing we have special local history to share about our contributions to Colorado, national, and international aviation history is eye-opening to our visitors and local citizens,” said volunteer, Dave Lively of Grand Lake. “Many are not aware of Charles Lindbergh frequent flights to our local Knight Ranch or Dwight Eisenhower, also a pilot, fishing in our Fraser River.”

To learn more about this Grand County Historical Association Museum visit