More Construction Photos

Here we are, the last week of October and the new hangar is getting closer to completion. As of this writing, completion is expected the week of November 18. The wind and rain have been wreaking havoc the past few weeks!

Thanks for checking on our progress.

Kelch Aviation Museum receives $100,000 posthumous donation from beloved community member Rudy Kopp

The Kelch Aviation Museum at Brodhead Airport has received a $100,000 gift from the late Rudy Kopp (1927-2019) of Orfordville. For those who knew him, it will be no surprise that neither Rudy’s enthusiasm for aviation nor his generosity have been dampened at all by his passing in July 2019.

“Rudy had far ranging interests, but aviation was at the top of his list,” said daughter Nancy Kopp. From his first glimpse of a plane in the early 1930s, flight fascinated Rudy, and he made up his mind that someday he would fly. He got his private pilot’s license when he was in his early 40s and his glider rating at age 50.

Rudy’s curiosity led him on adventures around the world, making friends wherever he went, and becoming a veritable encyclopedia of information of all kinds.

In his travels, aviation museums were always a required stop, and Rudy was a frequent visitor to the Brodhead Airport, sometimes bringing his 1928 Packard Sedan. Naturally Rudy followed Kelch Aviation Museum’s progress from the beginning, delighted that Brodhead would soon have such a fine facility.

The new museum building began construction in July, with Phase 1 to be completed this November and Phase 2 in 2020. The new facility will feature 19 restored vintage aircraft from the “Golden Age of Aviation” (1920-1940) and a large rentable banquet space, in addition to an aviation art gallery, a collection of vintage automobiles, and an archive & library space. The facility will be open to the public year round, and will be a community resource for Brodhead and the surrounding area. A capital campaign launched in 2016 has raised nearly $850,000 to date.

Thanks to a $370,000 challenge grant awarded by the William S. Knight foundation, Rudy Kopp’s gift will effectively double. Rudy counted Bill and Stan Knight among his many friends, and was pleased to join with the Knight Foundation in contributing to this outstanding local project.

In the span of Rudy’s long and illustrious life, Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic, man set foot on the moon, and jet technology literally took off. Rudy never lost his sense of wonder (nor his sense of humor) about the accomplishments of humankind and the beauty of the natural world. Throughout his life he delighted in learning and discovering, and so The Kelch Aviation Museum will name their library & archive in his honor. A display about his life and passion for aviation and exploration will also be presented within the museum.

“Whenever Rudy stopped to visit, he would ask detailed questions about our operation and mission, so it’s humbling to know that we passed muster,” said Patrick Weeden, Executive Director of the Kelch Aviation Museum. “We are proud to carry on his memory and never-ending quest for knowledge and learning.”

Building Construction Has Begun

Construction on our new museum hangar officially began on Monday, August 26, 2019! Kranig Excavating of Albany, Wis. and Bayland Buildings of Green Bay are both busy, and neither is wasting time getting work done.

Here are some pictures from the first week of work.

Wisconsin Flying Hamburger Social Wednesday, August 21

A reminder that the Kelch Aviation Museum is hosting the last Wisconsin Flying Hamburger Social of the season next Wednesday, August 21, 2019 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at at Brodhead Airport.

We’ll have burgers, brats, and the usual picnic sides, plus some options for the meatless crowd. Fly in or drive in for some food and aviation camaraderie. There is no charge but donations are appreciated.

Phase I Groundbreaking

We’re excited to announce the official groundbreaking for Phase I of our new museum building. The date is Friday, July 19, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.

Bayland Buildings of Green Bay, Wis. is our general contractor and the new 12,000 sq. ft. steel hangar will be from Bluescope in nearby Evansville, Wis.

This has been a long time coming, and we hope you can join us when we kick things off in just a few weeks.

Safely Moving the Archive

With Phase 1 of the new museum building construction right around the corner, we began a long anticipated move of our archive to a suitable climate controlled facility in mid-May. The building that housed our books, papers, artwork, physical objects, etc., needed to be deconstructed to make room for the new museum hangar. What to do with our dozens of bins and boxes of archival treasures?

Fortunately, the Brodhead Historical Society and the City of Brodhead stepped in to help. After an addition to the local Depot Museum, a historic cheese storage building in downtown Brodhead sat empty. The city agreed to grant the Kelch Aviation Museum use of this climate controlled room for temporary storage while the archive’s permanent home is constructed at the airport. Our staff made a seemingly endless number of trips to town, filling the 25’ x 25’ room floor to ceiling. Thanks to the Brodhead City Council, we will be able to continue preservation, cataloging, and other work in the archive in spite of our temporary relocation.