Gathering dust in the old base dining facility of Geiger Field, now Spokane International Airport, is a World War II-era aerial bomb, welded shut in 1966, with unknown artifacts inside, "items typical of the 1960s." It now serves as a time capsule.
The time capsule will be housed at the Honor Point Museum at Felts Field in Spokane when it is opened in 2066. The former WWII-era weapon had been on display at Fairchild Air Force Base in previous decades.
The Spokane Daily Chronicle's description of the time capsule from 1966 states the weight as 1,000 pounds, but the Honor Point Military and Aerospace Museum's facilities and artifacts volunteer, Stan Roth, estimates it to be a more modest 250 pounds.
"It's like a lot of stuff in the military," Roth said. "It's big and heavy, without a lot of give. And whatever it hits, the thing breaks."
Roth wheeled the bomb out on a dolly, and maneuvering the bomb took a fair degree of effort.
"I was told there's stuff inside it, and that's all I could tell you," Roth said.
Ed Kaluza, who spearheaded the creation of the time capsule, was a master sergeant in the Air National Guard at the time of the sealing.
"The bomb time capsule in your news clipping from 1966 is the one you photographed at Spokane International last Wednesday morning," Roth said a few days after taking the time capsule out of storage for photographing. "The guy in the photo, Ed Kaluza, apparently created it and had a hand in putting the contents in it. It appears to have been in the custody of the Washington Air National Guard for some time. Our accession number for the item indicates that it was given to Fairchild Heritage Museum by William Krapohl, with a donation date of Sept. 19, 1990. Ed Kaluza was one of the people involved in starting the Fairchild Heritage Museum sometime in the mid-1980s."
The bomb/time capsule had been at Fairchild for some time before starting another journey toward its future destination, the Honor Point Museum.
"The bomb was on display in front of the barracks building that housed Fairchild Heritage Museum when I signed on as a volunteer in October 1996," Roth said. "At that time, the bomb looked just like it does now. The original building sat in the block directly east of the current (Heritage) Air Park, along with the four rail cars that are still there. That original building, and a second one that we expanded into around 1999 or 2000, were both torn down several years ago."
After its time at Fairchild, the bomb time capsule moved around the Inland Northwest even more before being put in its current storage spot.
"The Fairchild Heritage Museum closed in June 2002," Roth said. "The entire collection was packed up and moved off base, except for a few selected items that were moved to Wright-Patterson (AFB, Ohio,) by Air Force Museum folks. A lot of the collection was stored at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture (in Spokane), and the big, hard, heavy stuff that was not climate sensitive was moved to an Atlas-E Missile Site near Sprague, Washington. The bomb was part of the Sprague stuff. In the summer of 2007, we moved the Sprague stuff back to Spokane, to a building on Spokane International (Airport) property. In April and May of 2015, we moved the Sprague stuff again, from the airport property to the building where you met us last Wednesday, which is owned by Community Colleges of Spokane."
The former bomb is more than a time capsule now. It is a symbol of the military history of the region.
"This time capsule is a snapshot in time, providing us a unique glimpse into the past," said Jim O'Connell, 92nd Air Refueling Wing historian. "It affords us a precious opportunity to better understand and appreciate those Airmen who created the legacy of excellence that we know today."