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New wing to honor museum founders killed in crashes

(Dave Samson / Forum News Service) Donna Odegaard, wife of the late Robert Odegaard, takes a photo Saturday during groundbreaking ceremonies for the new Beck-Odegarrd addition at the Fargo Air Museum in north Fargo.1 / 2
(David Samson / Forum News Service) A B-29 Superfortess flies over the Fargo Air Museum during groundbreaking ceremonies Saturday for the new Beck-Odegaard Wing in Fargo.2 / 2

FARGO -- Supporters of the Fargo Air Museum broke ground Saturday morning on its new hangar honoring Gerry Beck and Bob Odegaard -- two late area aviation pioneers.

Dozens gathered at the museum Saturday while the Odegaard and Beck families as well as members of the museum's board took the first steps toward building the addition.

The Beck-Odegaard wing is named for the two men who helped establish the air museum, and both died in plane accidents.

Beck, of Wahpeton, was known for his restoration of vintage World War II-era planes. He died in 2007 at an air show in Oshkosh, Wis.

Similarly, Odegaard was killed during a plane crash while practicing for an air show in Valley City in 2012. The 66-year-old Kindred man was also known for restoring planes and his involvement with the Fargo AirSho and the Fargo Air Museum.

Beck, Odegaard and two others founded the museum, which opened in 2001.

"They were very big pioneers in aviation in our community," said Rex Hammarback, chairman of the Fargo Air Museum board, after the dedication.

Plans for the new 150-by-100-foot hangar have been in the works for almost two years, Hammarback said. They recently decided to name it for Odegaard and Beck.

The addition will be similar in design to the original hangar with an entrance on the east side facing 16th Street North. Eventually, the museum plans to join the two buildings with an entrance between them.

Once complete, the museum will have more space for several aircraft now stored elsewhere, such as a B-25 Mitchell in Wahpeton that Beck donated during the museum's early years.

"There's a number of planes that are going to 'come home,' " Hammarback said.

He said they hope to complete construction by the end of the year.