The Delaware Valley Historical Aircraft Association Harold F. Pitcairn Wings of
Freedom Aviation Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, all-volunteer organization, located in
Horsham, Pa. The museum's mission is to preserve aviation history in the greater
Delaware Valley, including the contributions of Harold F. Pitcairn, as well as the
men and women who served at NASJRB Willow Grove, for the education and benefit of
We currently have seventeen aircraft on display both inside the museum and in the
outdoor display area. Our restoration team is responsible for the restoration and
maintenance of all historic aircraft located at the Wings of Freedom Aviation Museum.
Most recently, our restoration team has completed an extensive exterior restoration of the
Chance Vought F8U-1 "Crusader". Currently, we are working on a light restoration of
the FJ-4B "Fury" . The Lockheed P-3B "Orion" is the next restoration challenge to
NOTE - for current news, see the Facebook feed below. Also see the Wings of Freedom Website.
Also, check out the Gift Shop.
The beginnings of displaying aircraft at Willow Grove began shortly after World War II.
In May 1946, LCdr. David Ascher arrived at NAS Willow Grove as the station’s first
Aircraft Maintenance Officer. A few months later, a local high school acquired a
P-40E “Kittyhawk” from the Army Air Force which
they turned over to the Navy. Ascher led the movement to modify the aircraft and
change the markings to a “Flying Tiger,” thus becoming the first aircraft displayed
at Willow Grove.
With a large public response, Ascher decided to pursue acquiring additional aircrafts.
A former shipmate of Ascher’s, Navy Cdr. John Schwirtz, informed him that two Japanese
seaplanes were removed from the captured German battle cruiser, Prinz-Eugen, in Philadelphia.
Along with some of his personnel, Ascher went to NAF Philadelphia and picked up the seaplanes
returning them to Willow Grove. The seaplane, a German Arado, became the second aircraft
displayed in early 1947.
Ascher then heard about several captured Axis aircraft scheduled to be scrapped at
NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. Seeing the potential for
something great with these aircraft, Ascher and the base’s training officer LCdr Hass,
flew to Patuxent River in spring 1947. They chose several unique World War II enemy aircraft
and gained approval for their return to NAS
Willow Grove. First, barged to the NAF Philadelphia, the
wings were removed for transport along the narrow roads
north twenty-five miles under local police escort to NAS
Willow Grove for display. Reassembled and repainted with their original markings,
the aircraft were placed on display for the public to see.
LCdr Ascher remained at NAS Willow Grove until 1952 when he was transferred to the
Naval Reserve Air Station at Niagara Falls Airport, NY. Ascher passed away in 2006
but his acquisition of several aircraft and his dedication to preserving
them began Willow Grove’s long history of displaying military aircraft for the public