Confronted with the daunting task of finding temporary homes for 16 classic airplanes, hundreds of models, a gift shop and equipment, Laureano Mier, Pearson Air Museum manager, knew he was in for a tough week.
Over the weekend, the National Park Service officially gave the museum, run by the Fort Vancouver National Trust, 45 days to transition to new management. But the agency, which owns the land and hangar but not the displays or planes, also told Pearson staff they wanted the keys and security codes by Wednesday.
So the trust decided to move the contents of the museum — including many large, delicate planes — to new locations in a span of about 48 hours, rather than risk handing private property over to the Park Service.
What happened next, though, made Mier well up with tears of gratitude.
“People have been coming in, asking how they can help,” Mier said. “It’s really emotional. Volunteers have been helping us. A lot of pilots on (Pearson) Field have put their own planes out on the field so we can store our planes in their hangars.”
The trust, which operated the museum for the city of Vancouver, announced Wednesday that it was closing the museum as a “result of an unresolved dispute with the National Parks Service regarding park use policy.”