I recently spoke with Master Sergeant Darin Hubble, Public Affairs Superintendent, at the Baer Field Heritage Air Park. Hubble gave me a tour and explained some of the Air Park and base’s history.
The space where the Air Park is today used to be a parking lot, which had its own maintenance and cleaning costs to the 122nd Fighter Wing. Hubble explained that the lot was “not utilized well,” so several years ago, leaders at the base decided that the area could be of better use to the public. The cost to the base to use the area as an Air Park was about the same as the cost to simply maintain the area.
Most of the other materials and services used to create the park were donated by community organizations and businesses. All aircraft displayed have been flown at the base by individuals from the Greater Fort Wayne area. Some of the planes were already on risers on the base and were moved to the Air Park so visitors could see them.
Hubble said that while the soldiers on the base enjoyed the planes, it made more sense to move them to where people without a security clearance could enjoy them. Today, the Air Park has several planes on risers with information plaques so visitors can learn more about the history of the planes and a Humvee to show other branches of the military in the area. The goal of the Air Park is to show visitors the history of the military in the area.
A base has been located in that general part of Fort Wayne since 1946, which is before the Air Force itself was commissioned. Hubble described that Waynedale was established because of the large military presence in the area.
In the future, Hubble said the leaders of the Air Park would like to have a mobile app that visitors would be able to use to access more information and unique content about the aircraft. The Air Park is also still trying to acquire other planes that were flown from the base. Hubble said he “can’t think of a better way to give back to the community” than to have the Air Park and “share our heritage” with visitors. The park is free to visitors and handicapped accessible with a small playground and pavilion for picnics.
Baer Field Heritage Air Park is open 9 a.m. to dusk daily. Learn more here.