Missiles and More
Janine Stidley was our guest speaker on April 13th. She and her husband Rick, a fellow Kiwanian, moved to Topsail in 2016 to be full time residents after vacationing on Topsail for a number of years. Janine has worked in the corporate sector, the private sector and the federal government as well as small businesses and in education. She has over 35 years of volunteer experience with Military Family Readiness Groups, Community Spouses’ Clubs, Girls Scouts, PTAs, United Methodist Youth Fellowships and other Church Groups as well as the Historical Society of Topsail Island.
Janine is currently the acting director of the Missiles & More Museum and is here today to let us know how things are going with the museum and what we can expect in the coming year.
Janine noted that “The Missiles and More Museum came to life when a group of citizens were concerned for the future of the historical Assembly Building. The building, constructed 1946, was used by the government to assemble missiles for a secret missile operation being conducted on Topsail Island. These citizens began to pursue their goal to preserve the building. After several years of research, feasibility studies and meeting with state and local representatives the building was purchased. Thus, the Assembly Building became the perfect place to house the Missiles and More Museum. The late Betty Polzer’s dream was to promote the history of Topsail Island And through her persistence, her dream was finally realized and the Missiles and More Museum opened its door in 1995.”
One of the coolest new features at the Museum is the ‘PocketSights Tour Guide’ app that takes visitors on a walking tour around the Operation Bumblebee (U.S Navy) test site describing the processes that went on to move missiles from the Assembly Building to the launch pad, fuel, then launch the test missile. Over 200 launches were made during Operation Bumblebee in the late 1940’s. [Note: If you have the ‘PocketSights Tour Guide’ app on your smartphone, then when at the Museum open the app and select “Historical Walking Tour of Topsail Beach”. If you don’t have the app, then you will first need to download it from your app store of choice.]
Janine also spoke about Camp Davis and the role it played in training Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) who subsequently played a key role in ferrying military aircraft around the country and around the world. Incidentally, Janine noted that qualifying women were required to already have a pilot’s license before joining the training program; a requirement not held to men who joined the Army Air Corps.
While the Museum is now open on Mondays to Fridays from 2 – 5pm, COVID restrictions are being followed so tours of the Assembly Building/Museum are one way. In June, plans are to go a 11am – 5pm schedule, Mondays through Saturdays.
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