I am sad to announce that Joe Maknauskas — who was the aircraft and facility manager of the Delta Heritage Museum — has passed away peacefully this morning after suffering complications from brain surgery in August.
In Memoriam: Joe Maknauskas
Joe was a key member of the award-winning crew of the painstaking five-year restoration Delta Air Lines DC-3 Ship 41 — which in 2001 was the winner of the first National Trust for Historic Preservation award presented to an aircraft — and was involved with many other special aircraft projects for Delta Air Lines and the Delta Heritage Museum through the years.
If you were fortunate to have attended either the 2009 Delta Air Lines FlyerTalk Event or the 2010 Delta Air Lines FlyerTalk Event and you had a chance to board the DC-3 aircraft, Joe was the person who proudly talked about the aircraft in the Delta Heritage Museum and supplied you with the gloves and booties — and he even helped put the booties over your footwear before boarding the vintage aircraft.
One of my favorite memories of Joe was when he invited me to climb on board of a restored 1931 Travel Air aircraft — nicknamed the “Gull Wing” — symbolizing the first passenger aircraft of Delta Air Lines.
This is a rare view inside the restored 1931 Travel Air aircraft. The “pilot” is literally a dummy.
Joe assists with the booties as FlyerTalk members Vuelos, Flyin’Mom and flyzabit board Ship 41 on June 25, 2009.
Joe and FlyerTalk member bdnyc discuss the vintage DC-3 aircraft — shown in the background — on June 25, 2009.
Joe Maknauskas talks to FlyerTalk members — including the late KLC — at the Delta Heritage Museum on June 25, 2009. On the right is the museum store, housed in the front portion of an actual Lockheed L-1011 fuselage.