Recovery: A City United

The tremendous response by volunteers and donors who made the recovery a success is still greatly appreciated, and not enough can be said to thank them all. Local schools, businesses, and organizations rallied together to sponsor raffles, bake sales, arts and crafts sales, and other benefit drives. Local radio station KCBQ hosted a concert at the Sports Arena featuring the legendary rock band, Foreigner. Chula Vista High School senior, Mark Haas, raised $800 by organizing a charity basketball game between the Chula Vista police department and the school’s basketball team. The police beat the students 57-55 in overtime.

Local businesses enthusiastically lent their support. The New China Restaurant at 6313 El Cajon Blvd. invited neighboring merchants to raise funds and donated $1916.26.

Residents put together a carnival to raise funds.

Support was garnered at the Rancho Bernardo Fourth of July Parade.

And at a Downtown San Diego parade, too.

Miss Aero-Space Museum, Kathy Trabert of Leucadia offered a teed-up ball to play golf at the 1st annual San Diego Aero-Space Museum's Pro-Am Celebrity Golf Tournament, Nov. 17, 1978.

Many local schools rallied to raise money to rebuild the Museum.

A poem from Joni Ring, 14 years old, from Mar Vista Junior High.

The SDAM truck and Aer-Fund trailer, May 12, 1978.

By April, the recovery effort, headed by Fred Garry, president of Rohr Industries in Chula Vista, had netted over $800,000. By October, sixty-one portraits had been completed for the International Hall of Fame, and thirty aircraft were listed for the initial display. A Los Angeles design firm prepared plans for the new exhibit in the Ford building. Museum membership had topped over 2000 and nearly 100 volunteers were active in bringing the Museum back to life. 

The cleared site, May 12, 1978.

Offsite, volunteers were building a replica of the Ryan Spirit of St. Louis in Hangar 60 at the General Dynamics/Convair Division plant on Harbor Drive. Sponsored by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce who had pledged $100,000 for the project, the monoplane under construction was deemed a “genuine” replica because at least two builders of the original Spirit, Ed Morrow and Walt Ballard, were taking part in constructing the replacement. T. Claude Ryan served as honorary general supervisor. Volunteer Tim Cunningham suggested the name Phoenix Flight for the dedicated volunteers and the Board made it official. Even today, some Museum volunteers still wear “Phoenix Flight” on their name badges. Six months later, the new Spirit of St. Louis flew on April 28, 1979, the anniversary of Lindbergh's first flight in San Diego.

The “new” Spirit of St. Louis outside Hangar 60. 

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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