May 19, 2024

World-Class Naval Air Museum Is Here

naval air museum

The state-of-the-art building for a world-class Patuxent River Naval Air Museum was a long time coming. But it has arrived and celebrated that at a stellar inaugural event this month.

The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum was conceived in 1975 by a group of military and civilian enthusiasts determined to preserve, through its artifacts, the history of naval aviation, developed here, at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, founded in 1943.

First Board of Directors

  • Robert “Gabe” Gabrelcik – President
  • RADMWard Miller, USN (Ret) – Vice President
  • Valerie von Allmen – Secretary
  • LCDR Herold Hitchcock, USN (Ret) – Treasurer
  • RADMThurston Clark, USN (Ret)
  • RADM C.H. Duerfeldt, USN (Ret)
  • Mrs. Anne DeJong
  • AC2 Dennis Klepper, USN
  • Mr. Joseph Dillow
  • Mr. Raymond Runco
  • Mr. Walter Popp
  • LCDR Edward Schneider, USN

In 1978 the museum opened in a former USO club later turned into an enlisted men’s club. As the collection of materials and documents grew, so did attendance.

In 1992 the Secretary of the Navy  declared the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum an official US Navy Museum, one of 12. The museum moved to its present location adjacent to Gate One at Three Notch Road and Peggs Road, Lexington Park, MD.

Just as the collection and attendance continued to grow, in 1997 the museum’s mission grew as well. Now the Pax Naval Air Museum would reflect the arrival of the headquarters of the Naval Air Systems Command, as Pax River became the Navy’s center for aviation research, development, testing, and evaluation.

In November, 2015, the state-of-the-art museum building was completed, providing a world-class space to preserve and interpret the Navy’s scientific and technological aviation heritage. The museum’s further mission is to inspire students to carry what they learn here onward into future discoveries.

A packed house celebrated the museum’s completion at a inaugural dinner featuring a keynote address by Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., (USMCRet.), the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration since 2009 and a 1979 alum of the Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, MD. While working at the Naval Air Test Center’s Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates, he tested a variety of ground attack aircraft until his selection as an astronaut candidate in 1980.

Current Board of Directors:

  • Edward Sierra, President
  • Peter Butt, Vice President
  • Dan Macone, Treasurer
  • Lisa Horton, Secretary
  • George Hill, Vice President Development
  • Martin Ahmad
  • Amy Houle Caruso
  • Joe  L.  Dunn
  • Jackie Erickson
  • Regina M. Faden
  • Barbara  Ives
  • Vern Lochausen
  • Rusty Lowry
  • Chad Miller

Also during the celebration of the long-awaited opening of the new museum building, The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum Board of Directors honored tireless museum advocate Harry R. Errington, LCDR, USN (Retired). Mr. Errington received the Gabe Gabrelcik Meritorious Volunteer Service Award, presented  to a volunteer who demonstrates a sustained period of devoted dedication and outstanding service to the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum. Enlisting in the Navy during the Korean War in 1951, he attended aviation schools, served in 7 VFNA squadrons on 5 aircraft carriers. His shore duties included Patuxent River Naval Air Station where he retired into Civil Service and then retired into volunteering as Full Time Aircraft Maintenance Officer and resident expert for the Pax River Naval Air Museum.

 Emeritus board members:

  • Henry Bonner
  • Larry M. Egbert
  • L.F. Eggert
  • Harry Errington
  • Felix P. Gigliotti
  • George  Hurlburt
  • Jim McCue
  • Thomas S. Momiyama
  • Robert Parkinson
  • Robert Richards
  • Walter Rupp
  • David Seeman
  • Gene Townsend
  • Nick Vagianos


Inaugural Dinner Sponsors

Top Gun Sponsors: DynCorp International, The Patuxent Partnership. Westlake Reed & Leskosky, Wyle

Sierra Hotel Sponsors: Alion Science, AVIAN, BAE, GE Aviation, HERON. Jahn Corp., Mr. & Mrs. David Seeman, Toyota of Southern MD, Joann M. Wood, LLC – In celebration of the volunteer support of Harold D. Bishop

Maverick sponsors: The Boeing Company, CMI Affiliated Company, Community Bank of the Chesapeake, Mr. Keith Fairfax, Mr & Mrs Carl Franzen, LoneStar Analysis, Platform Systems, Inc., Sabre Systems, SMECO, Taylor Gas Company, and  Leslie Taylor – In memory of Steve Hazelrigg.

Iceman sponsors: AIRTECH, College of Southern MD, DCS Corporation, Smartronix, Voletude, Christine Wray & John Felicitas, and Jack and Karen Holcomb

To learn more about the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum visit their Leader Member page.


One Response to “World-Class Naval Air Museum Is Here”
  1. When the F18 arrived at Patuxent river the program was setup in the West Side Maintenance Hanger. I was stationed at Strike Aircraft Directorate.My father John W. Godwin was crew chief on # 2 test F-18. I was Appointed as the second military support representative at Strike Aircraft Directorate in support of the F-18 Test and Evaluation Program By Harry Errington, LCDR Ret. in this capacity I accompanied the aircraft to the Aircraft Carrier America for stress tests and NAS Lakehurst for Jet Blast Deflector trials.
    Since my fathers passing i have found his copy of the F-18 Hornet Training Mechanic Aircraft Production manual from training dept 105. There are notes and annotations in the manual and one blue print.
    This being a part of aviation history and part of my fathers legacy I would like to donate it to the Pax Aviation Museum if you would have a use for this item.

    Stephen D. Godwin, ATCS Retired

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