By SPARKY BARNES SARGENT
A new group, “Friends of Naval Air Station (NAS) Ottumwa,” has recently been formed to preserve the history and Naval aviation heritage of the Ottumwa, Iowa, airport.
The old, two-story brick administration building still exists on the property, but is in need of repair since it has been unused for years. The group seeks to restore the building so that it can house an educational museum and encourage economic development in the Ottumwa area by renting space for business meetings and other functions.
To begin the renovation, the group hopes to raise funds through private and corporate donations, obtain grants, acquire material donations, and invest their own “sweat equity” in the project.
Ottumwa’s rich history includes 22 practice fields that were built by the Navy during World War II. Many of those fields have been lost to local development, but NAS Ottumwa continued its operations as a civilian airport after the war. Naval aviators who came through Ottumwa include Scott Carpenter, Richard Nixon, Jesse Leroy Brown, Robert E. Bowman, and Dorris D. Gurley, NAS Ottumwa’s first commander.
“Friends of NAS Ottumwa is incorporated and is currently working on an agreement with the city for the building,” said Stephen Black, adding, “the big hold-up is waiting on the 501(c)-3 ruling. Once that is granted, we will be considered a not-for-profit dating back to our incorporation date.”
Those who are interested in learning more about this project can contact Black at firstname.lastname@example.org, 515-278-5219, or by writing to: Friends of NAS Ottumwa, P.O. Box 350, Johnston, Iowa 50131.