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Senate OKs Smith Field museum in FAA bill

October 3, 2018

The U.S. Senate approved a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday, endorsing Fort Wayne’s Smith Field as the site of the National Airmail Museum in the process.

The Senate voted 93-6 in favor of the FAA reauthorization. “Yes” votes included those of senators Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Todd Young, R-Ind.

The House approved the legislation 398-23 on Sept. 26. The bill goes next to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Stand-alone legislation introduced by Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, to designate the National Airmail Museum became an amendment to the FAA bill. Young and Donnelly filed a Senate bill identical to Banks’ proposal.

“I look forward to seeing this project move forward,” Young said in a statement after the Senate vote.

The FAA reauthorization would prohibit the use of federal funds for the museum, which would be financed privately.

Smith Field advocates have said the development of the museum will cost $2.5 million. They hope to furnish the airport’s Hangar 2 with aircraft displays, interactive exhibits and photographs that trace the history of airmail and Smith Field’s role in it.

Commercial airmail service began at Smith Field in 1930, when the airport was called Paul Baer Municipal Airport. Baer and Art Smith were celebrated pilots from Fort Wayne who died in plane crashes while delivering mail.

For more on this story, see Thursday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit www.journalgazette.net after 1 a.m. Thursday.

bfrancisco@jg.net

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