PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Sixty years after its first dedication
ceremony as a passenger terminal, the Peterson Air and Space Museum reopened
its doors to the public Aug. 16 after an eight-month restoration and
renovation of the building and the grounds.

State and local officials gathered at the World War II-era site to rededicate
the museum, including Gen. Ed Eberhart, commander in chief of U.S. Space
Command and the North American Aerospace Command, as well as commander of Air
Force Space Command.

Representatives from the governor’s office, Colorado Springs’ mayor’s office
and Colorado Historical Society also attended.

All of the speakers spoke of the common goal of base and local officials to
preserve the buildings that represent Colorado Springs’ heritage, but perhaps
the most noteworthy attendee was the brother of the man for whom the base is

“My wife and I remember the original dedication of the base in 1942,” said
retired Lt. Col. Maurice Peterson, museum foundation member and brother of
the base’s namesake. “We are very impressed with the tremendous amount of
work they’ve done to get the museum and grounds the way they are today.”

The Peterson Air and Space Museum is housed in the original Colorado Springs
Airport passenger terminal building built in 1941 at the city’s first
municipal airport, founded in 1926.

In May 1942, the Colorado Springs Army Air Base was established at the
airport to conduct photo reconnaissance training. A few months later, 1st
Lt. Edward J. Peterson, operations officer for the 14th Photo Reconnaissance
Squadron and Colorado native, crashed during take-off from the base and
consequently became the first native of Colorado killed in a flying accident
at the airfield. Officials later changed the name of the base to Peterson
Army Air Base in honor of the fallen pilot.

Following the birth of the U.S. Air Force and several years of realignment
and redesignation, the base was renamed in 1976 to Peterson Air Force Base.

Because of its unique history, the state of Colorado recognizes the 8.3-acre
site of the original municipal airport, now a part of Peterson AFB, as an
approved historic district.

The museum, dedicated to Edward J. Peterson in 1981, features artifacts
dating from Colorado Springs’ early aviation history through today’s space
operations. Several World War II and present day aircraft are also displayed
on museum grounds.