Award-winning AMC Museum adapts to COVID-19

  • Published
  • By Roland Balik
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Air Mobility Command Museum, dedicated to airlift and air refueling history, has been operating under partial reopening guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic as museum personnel continue daily operations on a reduced scale after Health Protection Condition Bravo and Phase I restrictions were lifted.

Normally, 130 volunteers work at the museum, but under Dover AFB public health condition guidelines established by the state of Delaware and the federal government, only 15 non-vulnerable volunteers under the age of 65 are allowed to work.

Eighty-nine percent of the volunteers fell into the “high risk” category and were asked to stay home.

Museum activities, such as open cockpit days, the Summer Camp program and guided tours, have been canceled.

“We are open in Phase II to ‘outside only’ on Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” said John Taylor, AMC Museum director. “Our gift store is open outside in a mobile trailer with social distancing guidelines in place.”

The museum has 32 aircraft, to include the C-5A Galaxy and the McDonnell Douglas VC-9C, on display, of which seven are housed inside the museum hangar. At the moment, none of the 25 outside aircraft displays are available to enter, but visitors may walk around and observe them at their leisure. In addition, portable toilets are available for visitors.

“Masks are required only when social distancing cannot be maintained,” said Michael Hurlburt, AMC Museum operations manager. “Our volunteers that are here are keeping an eye out for any large gatherings and dispersing them as needed.”

The pandemic led museum staff to come up with innovative ways to keep visitors engaged with the museum while only partially open to visitors. This led Eric Czerwinski, AMC Museum deputy director, along with Hurlburt, to produce virtual tours of aircraft on display.

“It has been a real fun experience to able to share that with people, especially when you can get up on the plane to show them around on the aircraft that normal visitors wouldn’t be able to access,” said Czerwinski.

Taylor added that over 100,000 individuals have either watched or “liked” the videos over a couple of months.

Retirement ceremonies can still be held inside the museum by calling 302-677-5938.

“We are doing military ceremonies inside at the social distancing platform, which chairs are set up six feet apart that allow 33 individuals to attend; that includes eight family members seated together,” said Taylor. “A total of 41 individuals can attend under the guidelines for COVID-19.”

Additionally, a post on the museum’s Facebook page Aug. 22 stated that the museum received the 2020 Trip Advisor Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best award.

“Just because we are closed [reduced open hours] doesn’t mean things aren’t happening [at the museum]; it’s real important to let people know that we are still busy,” said Czerwinski. “We are still busy upgrading our exhibits, replacing old mannequins, doing conservation work and adding new exhibits [inside] to the museum.”

Restoration of the Boeing KB-50J continues thanks to a few non-at-risk volunteers and with the help of the 512th Maintenance Squadron.

For current information about the AMC Museum, please go to https://amcmuseum.org/ or https://www.facebook.com/AMCMuseum.