Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link World History Group RSS feed World History Group Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Wings Remembered

By Stephan Wilkinson 
Originally published by Aviation History magazine. Published Online: March 04, 2013 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

Charles Runion's small Tennessee aviation museum is filled with what most folks would consider junk, but he's no hoarder. Wings Remembered is an unparalleled collection of mainly U.S. World War II artifacts recovered from crash sites and through donations of flight gear, uniforms, letters, diaries, medals and photos from the families of long-gone veterans. Cockpit sections, engine parts, a Norden bombsight and bombardier's compartment, rusty landing gear, crumpled wing and fuselage skins with insignias still visible… Runion has everything from a 12-foot-tall B-24 vertical stabilizer to an R-2800 valve rocker arm from a P-47 shot down during the Battle of the Bulge.

The rocker arm was in fact donated by me, and many of Runion's relics come from people who also have crash remnants or a granddad's leather jacket in the attic. (I first heard of Runion's collection from a cousin who contributed her father's gear from his days as a B-29 radioman.) Runion also makes frequent trips to crash sites when he's in Europe on business (his company manufactures precision metal parts), and he has a network of amateur wreck hunters, particularly in Germany, to feed him parts. "Fortunately for us," he says, "pieces of American aircraft are essentially worthless [to the Germans]. As far as they're concerned, the valuable stuff is Messerschmitt and Focke-Wulf parts."

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Aviation History magazine

Runion's single most noteworthy relic is a data plate that has been confirmed to have come from one of Doolittle's Raiders. The B-25 landed in Siberia, and 50 years later a friend of Runion's found the severed cockpit section lying on a disused part of the largely abandoned Russian base. It had been totally stripped and then crushed by a tracked vehicle—probably a tank—and virtually all that remained was the unnoticed data plate. 

Though Runion hopes to find space and a grant to support a larger public museum, his collection is currently open by appointment only, in a 3,000-square-foot space attached to his offices in Lebanon, about 30 miles east of Nashville: email or call (615) 444-7719 to set up a visit.

Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Related Articles

History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet? is brought to you by World History Group, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
World History Group

World History Group Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer!
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2015 World History Group. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy