Armstrong’s record-breaking jet donated to museum

Thomas Finkelmeier, on the board of directors at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, does a toast in honor of Neil Armstrong’s 90th birthday, after the Learjet 28 Longhorn arrived at the Neil Armstrong Airport on Wednesday morning. See more photos at limaohio.com.

Thomas Finkelmeier, on the board of directors at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, does a toast in honor of Neil Armstrong’s 90th birthday, after the Learjet 28 Longhorn arrived at the Neil Armstrong Airport on Wednesday morning. See more photos at limaohio.com.

Amanda Wilson | The Lima News

The Learjet 28 Longhorn’s (28-001) final flight included passovers at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum.

The Learjet 28 Longhorn’s (28-001) final flight included passovers at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum.

Tara Jones | The Lima News

The Learjet 28 makes its final landing at Neil Armstrong Airport in New Knoxville with a group of onlookers.

Tara Jones | The Lima News

The plane’s co-pilots are met by members of the Neil Armstrong Airport and Armstrong Air and Space Museum staff.

Tara Jones | The Lima News

Donor Kevin Hayward, left, poses with co-pilots Jim Dinan and Gregory H. Johnson.

Tara Jones | The Lima News

Gregory Myers, president of the Armstrong Air and Space Museum Board of Directors, gives opening remarks at the ceremony Wednesday morning at the Neil Armstrong Airport in New Knoxville.

Tara Jones | The Lima News

Mark Stear, a student of Neil Armstrong’s at the University of Cincinnati shared personal stories of his time with Armstrong along with several others at the ceremony.

Tara Jones | The Lima News

Neil Armstrong’s sons, Rick and Mark, were present at Wednesday’s landing of the Learjet 28. The date also marked what would have been Armstrong’s 90th birthday.

Tara Jones | The Lima News

Kevin Hayward, who donated the Learjet 28 to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum receives a plaque with the dollar bill that completed the jet’s sale to the museum.

Tara Jones | The Lima News

Steve Shinabery, airport manager of Lakefield Airport, checks out the interior of the historic Learjet 28 Longhorn at the Neil Armstrong Airport on Wednesday morning after flying over the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in honor of Neil’s 90th Birthday. Amanda Wilson -The Lima News

Amanda Wilson | The Lima News

Members of the Armstrong Air and Space Museum and Neil Armstrong Airport toast to the completion of a five-year project to bring the Learjet 28 to Wapakoneta.

Tara Jones | The Lima News

The historic Learjet 28 Longhorn arrived at the Neil Armstrong Airport on Wednesday morning after flying over the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in honor of Neil’s 90th Birthday. Amanda Wilson -The Lima News

Amanda Wilson | The Lima News

WAPAKONETA — The Learjet 28 that Neil Armstrong broke five records in took its last flight Wednesday morning, coming home to Neil Armstrong Airport on what would have been Armstrong’s 90th birthday.

The jet, flown in by former NASA astronaut and two-time shuttle pilot Gregory H. Johnson, will permanently be displayed at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum.

“When visitors come to the museum, there isn’t much about what’s after Apollo 11, so this is a fantastic artifact that really anchors that post-Apollo 11 part of Neil Armstrong’s career,” said Dante Centuori, the museum’s executive director. “It’s not just the fact that this is the only aircraft he ever set world records in, the other world records were space records … it shows his passion for being a pilot and that really was something he enjoyed his whole life. This helps us interpret that and tell that story.”

In February 1979, Armstrong, who served on Learjet’s Board of Directors, and co-pilot Pete Reynolds set Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and National Aeronautic Association records for time to climb to 15,000 meters and altitude.

The jet was donated by Kevin Hayward, president and CEO of Ox Industries in Pennsylvania, though it was technically purchased for $1 by the museum.

“Knowing the noise regulations were going into effect in 2016, the plane was going to need a lot of alterations that would have changed the historical value or the makeup of the airplane,” Hayward said of his decision to donate it.

Hayward originally reached out to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

“I had a contact there but they have an extensive Neil Armstrong exhibit, they had a Learjet — it didn’t feel as poignant as what it would be as at other exhibits,” Hayward said.

He then reached out to the University of Cincinnati’s aeronautical engineering department where Armstrong taught from 1971-79. He was directed to Mark Stear, a student of Armstrong’s at UC, who helped connect Hayward to Armstrong’s hometown.

“I feel fortunate to be able to be a small part, a nanosecond in history of this plane and this community, and I look forward to coming back and seeing it,” Hayward said.

Centuori said the next steps are for the museum to get the jet decommissioned and ready for display usage, so he’s not quite sure when visitors will be able to see it on display.

“The other part is the interpretation and figuring out how we want to display it on museum property,” he explained. “We have to ask ‘What’s the story we want it to tell?’ With an aircraft like this, every part of its lifetime tells a story. Do we give it the paint job it had when Neil set the world record? Do we leave it the way it is now to show what it was in its final state? These are the decisions that we’ll need to make.”

Thomas Finkelmeier, on the board of directors at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum, does a toast in honor of Neil Armstrong’s 90th birthday, after the Learjet 28 Longhorn arrived at the Neil Armstrong Airport on Wednesday morning. See more photos at limaohio.com.

The Learjet 28 Longhorn’s (28-001) final flight included passovers at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum.

The Learjet 28 makes its final landing at Neil Armstrong Airport in New Knoxville with a group of onlookers.

The plane’s co-pilots are met by members of the Neil Armstrong Airport and Armstrong Air and Space Museum staff.

Donor Kevin Hayward, left, poses with co-pilots Jim Dinan and Gregory H. Johnson.

Gregory Myers, president of the Armstrong Air and Space Museum Board of Directors, gives opening remarks at the ceremony Wednesday morning at the Neil Armstrong Airport in New Knoxville.

Mark Stear, a student of Neil Armstrong’s at the University of Cincinnati shared personal stories of his time with Armstrong along with several others at the ceremony.

Gregory H. Johnson and his co-pilots shared the experience of Learjet 28-001’s final flight.

Neil Armstrong’s sons, Rick and Mark, were present at Wednesday’s landing of the Learjet 28. The date also marked what would have been Armstrong’s 90th birthday.

Kevin Hayward, who donated the Learjet 28 to the Armstrong Air and Space Museum receives a plaque with the dollar bill that completed the jet’s sale to the museum.

Steve Shinabery, airport manager of Lakefield Airport, checks out the interior of the historic Learjet 28 Longhorn at the Neil Armstrong Airport on Wednesday morning after flying over the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in honor of Neil’s 90th Birthday. Amanda Wilson -The Lima News

Members of the Armstrong Air and Space Museum and Neil Armstrong Airport toast to the completion of a five-year project to bring the Learjet 28 to Wapakoneta.

The historic Learjet 28 Longhorn arrived at the Neil Armstrong Airport on Wednesday morning after flying over the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in honor of Neil’s 90th Birthday. Amanda Wilson -The Lima News

Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.