Harold Neumann - Aviation Pioneer Exhibit at Geneseo Museum

Claudia Loucks
Angie Snook, left, retired curator of the Geneseo Historical Museum; Paula (Neumann) Chapa, chairman of the Harold Neumann Project; and Bob Johnson, pilot, are shown by the miniature replica of Neumann’s “Mr. Mulligan,” which is included in the “Harold Neumann –Aviation Pioneer” exhibit at the museum.

It has been nearly 22 years since work began on the “Harold Neumann – Aviation Pioneer” exhibit at the Geneseo Historical Museum.

The project, which showcases Neumann’s historic flying career of 70 years, is coming to fruition with a grand opening and ribbon cutting celebrating his life as a world renowned pilot.

The grand opening and ribbon cutting for the exhibit will be held on May 15, but because of Covid-19 restrictions, the event is by invitation only. The celebration will be live-streamed on Geneseo’s Channel 50. The exhibit will be open to the public beginning Tuesday, May 18, by appointment only.

Angie Snook, retired curator of the Geneseo Historical Museum, shared the beginning of plans for the current exhibit…”In October of 1999, Harold Neumann’s daughter Ann (Neumann) James and family members Doris Richards and Sandra Pobanz, donated the first artifacts of Harold Neumann’s historic flying career to the Geneseo Historical Museum,” she said.

Nearly 22 years later, the exhibit’s completion will be celebrated with a grand opening and ribbon cutting, and for that reason, Snook, now retired, stayed involved as the project curator.

“Over the years and learning about Harold’s history, I feel like part of the family,” she said. “What started with his TWA uniform and some of his awards, trophies and license signed by Orville Wright, has grown to be one of the museum’s largest exhibits.” Neumann was born in 1906, and died in 1995.  

The public is invited to the fly-in at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, at the Gen-Air Airport in Geneseo. “Mr. Mulligan,” a pioneer racing plane, is scheduled to fly over the airport.

Jamie (Blackburn) Rhee, a graduate of Geneseo’s Class of 1985, who is now Commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation, will speak at the ribbon cutting. She will share how Neumann’s TWA flight from Paris to Chicago made O’Hare Airport an International Airport in 1958. Karl Engelskirger, Valley City, Ohio, a pilot and owner of both Howard Planes, “Mike and Ike,” will speak about owning and restoring the award-winning ships.

In addition, Elliot Block, San Diego, Calif., Howard Plane Historian, and test pilot will speak on the history of Benny Howard Planes and Benny’s relationship to Harold Neumann.