A nonprofit organization is raising money to preserve photos, records and memorabilia from the former Naval Air Station in Atlanta in hopes the materials eventually will go on public display at an aviation museum at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.

The Inspire Aviation Foundation hopes to eventually create an Atlanta Air & Space Museum at PDK, which once was the NAS Atlanta. For now, it seeks to raise $3,500 to help preserve the history of NAS Atlanta by digitizing materials assembled over the years by members of the Naval Air Station Reunion Group, according to the foundation’s website.

Naval Air Station Atlanta in 1945. The facility is now DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. (Inspire Aviation Foundation)

The archives feature photos, base programs and directories, promotional literature, engineering and architectural drawings for construction of the original World War II-era Naval Air Station, the foundation says on its website.

“It’s very rare material, very precious material,” said Moreno Aguiari, a member of the Atlanta Air & Space Museum’s board of directors, who worked on WWII-era airplane news publications from his PDK office.

Planes at the Naval Air Station in 1941 (Inspire Aviation Foundation)

Before it became a public airport, the Chamblee airfield, located on Clairmont Road on the Brookhaven border, had a history of military uses. Camp Gordon, a World War I training camp, operated there until 1922. Naval Air Station Atlanta operated at the site from 1941 until the late 1950s, when it relocated to Marietta. NAS Atlanta was shuttered in 2009.

The reunion group started annual meetings in 1960, once the air station completed its move to Marietta, Aguiari said. The group’s archives were donated to the foundation.

In addition to the archive, the foundation intends to develop a ground tour of PDK airport highlighting the facility’s history, according to Aguiari and the webpage. Eventually, the foundation wants to develop the Atlanta Air & Space Museum and Educational Campus at the county-owned airport and to use the archival material in a display about Naval Air Station Atlanta.

Sailors at Naval Air Station Atlanta on Sept. 6, 1941. (Inspire Aviation Foundation)

Anyone interested in donating to the archives preservation project can find further details on the website here.

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Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.