A portion of World War II history has become more accessible with the latest improvements at the B-29 Bombers on the Prairie at the Pratt Regional Airport.
The museum office, located at 82 Curran Road at PRA, has been transformed into the “B-29 Museum Library and Research Center.” The museum is located in the former parachute building that served the Pratt Army Air Field from 1943 to 1946. The PAAF was the first B-29 crew training center in the world.
The museum has collected an extensive amount of material about the Air Field and World War II and is striving to make as much of that material available to the public as possible. The new center will allow visitors to access the museum information base and resource materials.
Included in the research center is a reference library with over 350 volumes that are available to the public.
A new Veteran Stories Kiosk has over 70 interviews, mostly of World War II veterans plus some from other conflicts. Some of these veterans were stationed at PAAF during the War while others, both military and civilian, were from the Pratt area.
Up to now, these stories had been recorded but were not readily available to the public. Now, they have been catalogued and are accessible to the public.
Some of the original video and audio material is 17 years old and is poor quality but a restoration effort has made it usable. Copies of the interviews can be made for a minimal fee to the museum.
A new audio and video center is equipped with a VCR and DVD player for museum video media.
There is also a PC workstation available for research or searching the museum library catalog.
Materials may be used only while visiting the museum and are not available for checkout. Additional access to the Research Center is available by appointment.
The B-29 Bombers on the Prairie Museum is part of the All Veterans Museum Complex that includes the museum, the B-29 All Veterans Memorial and the Pratt Army Airfield Historical Walk that features a paved sidewalk tour around the airport facility to original sites of buildings, only a couple of original buildings remain, with detailed signs and photographs at original building sites and how they were used.
The museum is always seeking more stories and memorabilia. Anyone wanting to contribute a story or information or memorabilia can send it to the B-29 Museum Historian, email is b29mseum@gmail.com or mail items to B-29 Museum, P.O. Box 29, Pratt, KS, 67124.
Facebook at either @b29museum or @PrattVeteransMemorial. The website address is prairiebombers.org.
The museum is open Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m and other times by appointment. Contact 672-8321, 76202444 or 620-797-2919 to make appointments.