By Chris Sasser
Texas A&M Transportation Institute
In 1971, former pilots of the U.S. Army Air Force’s Glider Program banded together to form the National World War II Glider Pilots Association Inc. Their mission was to establish a forum for glider pilots to interact socially and to provide the framework for the preservation of the history of the U.S. glider program.
One of its first goals was to locate and restore a WACO CG-4A glider for public display. Several glider pilots in the Dallas area learned about a CG-4A glider sitting atop a tire store in Fresno, California. After World War II, the aircraft had been purchased as military surplus, placed on top of the building, and used as advertising. The association purchased the glider, and restoration was completed in time for the 1979 national reunion in Dallas. After the reunion, steps were taken to build a museum to house the CG-4A.
The first Silent Wings Museum opened to the public on Nov. 10, 1984, in Terrell, Texas. By 1997, the pilots realized that a more permanent museum home was needed. Lubbock, where a majority of the glider pilots had trained, offered to provide a new site for the museum. The pilots selected Lubbock as the new location, and the Terrell site closed in January 2001. In October 2002, the former South Plains Army Airfield site opened the new Silent Wings Museum in a building that served as the Lubbock airport terminal from 1949 until 1976. The restored CG-4A glider was a centerpiece of the exhibits.
The museum features a video presentation that provides background about the glider program and footage of gliders in action. And the facility itself is a treasure with its unique architectural design of the old terminal. One of the many highlights is the glass hangar that overlooks the view of the runways at Lubbock International Airport.
The Silent Wings Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays. For more information, visit: https://www.mylubbock.us/departmental-websites/departments/silent-wings-museum/home.