By Di Freeze
Harry Blout became president and executive director of the Aviation & Space Center of the Rockies on March 21, 2002.
“I have always had an affectionate spot in my heart for this museum because in my flying days Lowry was always a great place to come as a crewmember,” he said.
Blout, 71, attended the University of Illinois, where he earned his bachelor of science in personnel management, before entering the Air Force with a reserve commission.
After receiving his wings in 1954, he was assigned to Scott Air Force Base at Belleview, Ill., to Military Air Transport Service Air Evac. The aircraft commander was later assigned to Osan Air Base, Korea. He trained navigators at Harlingen AFB, Texas, before being transferred to Lowry Air Force Base, where he was an instructor and flight examiner.
Blout served as assistant director of operations and base operations officer at the USAF Academy airfield. He later spent a year as an air operations officer in Thailand, followed by a staff-training job. He retired from the Air Force in 1971 as a lieutenant colonel.
Blout says that over the course of the last two months, a main objective has been to get to know the wonderful staff at the center, which includes Wings Over The Rockies.
“We have well over 100 people who work here and give freely of their time; some donate 20 or 30 hours a week to the museum,” he said.
Blout says the center plans to maintain the goals of the past, which are to inspire people about air and space and to commemorate those who have gone before in those areas, as well as to provide education.
“That especially applies to young people who may be considering what career they would like to get into,” He said.
Blout heads a small paid staff. Linda Gross is the controller, Royal Stainbrook, facilities manager, Marilyn Taylor, events coordinator, and Nancy McCurdy, the manager of the museum gift shop. He says the staff is small because money for salaries is sparse.
“Like many museums, we are always in need of donations, grants, and additional volunteers,” he said.
Blout, who replaced former Attorney General Duane Woodard, travels between his home in Black Forest, north of Colorado Springs, and the center.
A past volunteer himself, Blout’s career path includes working for Jeppesen and the Piper Aircraft Corporation.
He helped create the Black Forest Soaring Society and has served as curator for the soaring exhibit at the Aviation & Space Center of the Rockies. He also served as the Academy Aero Club’s president.
Blout has logged over 12,000 flight hours, 5,000 as an instructor. The current president of Silver Wings, he is also a member of the Falcon Flight of the Order of the Daedalians, and has been heavily involved in the Colorado Aviation Historical Society. He was inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame in 1993.
“We’re proud to have the Colorado Historical Society’s Aviation Heritage Hall here with their Hall of Fame,” he said. “It’s a very popular exhibit here at the museum.”
Besides that exhibit, the center also draws crowds to Open Cockpit Day, held on the second Saturday of the odd-numbered months. Another attraction is the Fantasy of Flight Program headed up by Walt Barbo.
“It gives children, up to the age of 18, a chance to experience hands-on air and space training with desktop simulators and things like that,” Blout said.
At the time, says Blout, the center is trying to maximize their availability as a place for events.
“Having the nose of a B-1 looming overhead and the Century fighters all in a row as a backdrop is a great ambience for any sort of social event, from a reunion to corporate training sessions to a bar mitzvah,” he said.
Blout says the center offers the second largest venue for such events in the Denver area, behind the Colorado Convention Center.
“It’s a very large open area,” he said.
Blout has an M.B.A. in management, from Denver University, and also attended the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, to get a “history major tacked on to his bachelor’s.” He says the center appeals to him because of the location’s place in history. Of course, he also likes aviation.
“I came out of retirement, so to speak, because of the appeal of this job,” he said.