New Museum Building Groundbreaking! July 19, 2019
We’re almost ready to build! The Kelch Aviation Museum has signed with Bayland Buildings of Green Bay to construct Phase 1 of our new museum facility. Groundbreaking on the Bill & Sue Knight Memorial Vintage Aviation and Automotive Building will be Friday, July 19, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
The Kelch Aviation Museum is located at the Brodhead, Wis. Airport. Currently housed in six hangars, the museum contains a unique collection of aircraft from the “Golden Age of Aviation”. The museum is currently open by appointment only until we complete our new museum building, but we are able to accommodate most requests. Contact us today to plan your visit.
Alfred and Lois Kelch
Al Kelch was an industrialist who organized Kelch Manufacturing in 1956, a company that pioneered a number of industrial plastics innovations, including the manufacturing process for the ubiquitous orange traffic cone.
The company’s success allowed Al to pursue his passion for historic airplanes, boats and automobiles. Sparked when he was just six, he followed every report of Charles Lindbergh’s Atlantic crossing in 1927. He collected and restored dozens of aircraft over the years, including many rare examples. Al was also a member of the EAA Antique/Classic division, editor of the division’s magazine, Vintage Airplane, and co-created the core rules for judging vintage airplanes that are in use to this day.
Upon Al’s and Lois’ death, their entire collection of vintage aircraft was placed into the Alfred & Lois Kelch Charitable Trust, along with funds to, “…keep the hangars open”. In 2012, trustees created the Alfred & Lois Kelch Aviation Museum as an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
Kelch Aviation Museum, Inc.
The Kelch Aviation Museum currently owns 12 vintage aircraft and two restored automobiles, with others on long-term loan. The collection is scattered about the Brodhead Airport in six different hangars, none of which are heated or accessible to the public during the winter months, nor are there nearby public amenities like restrooms or adequate parking.
We recently purchased 2.5 acres adjacent to the Brodhead Airport that has two hangars, private access and established utilities. An access agreement with Brodhead Airport was procured to allow the museum to operate its aircraft and enjoy the established activities already on the field.
The Kelch Charitible Trust has provided significant financial support to help bring the Museum to it’s present place. With outside financial support, we will be in a position to establish a year-round aviation and transportation museum, open to the public and available for all to experience.
With this in mind, the Kelch Aviation Museum has launched a $1 Million Fundraising Goal to create a museum that celebrates the “Golden Age of Aviation” and include:
- 12,000 sq.ft. Main Hangar
- 4,000 sq.ft Open Meeting Area
- Aviation Reference Library
- Aviation Art Gallery
- 12 Permanent Aircraft (More on Loan)
- Vintage Automobiles
- Year-Round Operation
- Open to the Public
Established in 1946, Brodhead Airport is known around the country as one of the best grass airports in the Midwest. It hosts a number of public events throughout the year, including a three-day gathering of the Midwest Antique Airplane Club each September. Also, the national Pietenpol, Hatz and Bleriot clubs hold a joint three-day fly-in each July.
The airport is home to Chapter 431 of the Experimental Aircraft Association. More importantly, the airport is recognized for its commitment to demonstrating vintage aircraft, many of which are restored on site. There are nearly 75 airplanes in various stages of construction, restoration or in active airworthy condition, many from The Golden Age of Aviation. This is generally considered to be the revolutionary period between WWI and WWII that was characterized by a progressive change from slow, wood and fabric biplanes to streamlined metal monoplanes.
The Kelch Aviation Museum also intends to build a separate meeting space for Chapter 431 of the Experimental Aircraft Association, the host of annual fly-in events at Brodhead Airport, so that proper facilities can be utilized during these high-traffic, multi-day events.