In the early part of 1942, the city of Deland donated a small airfield to the Navy which was built up to serve as the Naval Air Station Deland. This station provided anti-submarine flights of the coast of Florida as well as advanced training for Navy patrol bombers and dive bombers. Aircraft stationed during WW2 were Venturas, Privateers and Dauntless types.
The based was closed in 1946 and the base was returned to the city for use.
In 1992, the DeLand Naval Air Station Museum was formed to honor and recognize the personnel and base for their service. The original Master at Arms Residence was still standing and was chosen to be the home of the new Museum.
The building was restored and dedicated in 1995. Housed in the facility are displays documenting the history of the base along with uniforms and dioramas from all eras of Naval Aviation. There is also an annex building and a hangar where other museum artifacts are being held and worked on.
I recently had a chance to visit the museum and was impressed with work and efforts of the staff to display the history of the base. The museum was busy on this Saturday morning as minor restoration work as being done on the F-14. After a brief walk around the Tomcat, we were invited into the museum by a guide who was extremely friendly and full of knowledge.
The museum had a few airframes assigned to it. The first one to catch your eye in the F-14 stationed out front.
This F-14 is BuNo 161426 and was delivered to the US Navy in 1982 as a F-14A and then was converted to a F-14B in 1998. It served in VF-143, VF-103 and VF-101 and has flown from the USS Enterprise, USS George Washington and the USS Dwight Eisenhower. This airframe has been on display since June 2005.
Behind the museum building, in a newly built hanger, there is a TBF Avenger that is being restored to static condition. The work being performed by the volunteer staff has been an ongoing task for the museum since 2004 when the aircraft was presented from the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.
This TBF was recovered in 1991 from Lake Michigan, where it sat for almost 50 years. In 1943, Bob Banta was piloting this aircraft as part of his carrier qualifications requirement, when he was waved off from landing due to smoke coming from the engine and had to ditch into the lake.
Also in the hanger is a Sikorsky HO-5 S-1 that has been restored to static display quality.
The tour guide mentioned that the plan is for another building between the museum and hangar to be built additional large displays.
Also behind the museum, Boy Scout Troop 544 and the volunteer staff are working to restore a Patrol Torpedo Fast 3 boat for hopeful water duty. This boat can trace it history back to the Vietnam War, where it served with distinction. This boat then returned to the US for duty with a US Navy dive school in Key West. It was sold for scrap in 1978 but sat unused until 2001 when it was donated to Scout Troop 544. Work continues daily on this project.
For more details about this, visit the website: http://www.ptf3restoration.org/
The museum also has a Lockheed T2V that is parked on the flightline across from the Annex building. This aircraft has an interestingly modified nose section.
Admission to the museum is free and the hospitality is great. There is a donation jar at the front door and I suggest dropping in any loose change you have to help this museum expand and continue to represent the history of the “greatest generation.”