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Home and Hangar

August 20, 1993|JEFF PRUGH

Imagine a living room where the sofa looks out of place. The jukebox and the slot machine don't really fit, either.

"Let your heart have wings," a sign beckons at 10-year-old Katrina Marie Mumaw's house in Lancaster.

And let all visitors beware:

This house is a graveyard of wall-to-wall aviation memorabilia amassed by Katrina's father, Jim, 36, a mortician.

The front room brims with airplane parts, a flight simulator, mannequins clad in helmets, face shields and jumpsuits from Vietnam to Desert Storm. Photos line the walls and part of the ceiling .

Scattered across the back yard are a B-25 engine, an F-4 Phantom jet ejection seat and the crumpled shell of an A-4 Skyhawk jet.

Mumaw gives tours to schoolchildren, civic groups, military personnel from Edwards Air Force Base and aviation buffs.

Escorting a visitor, he points out a DC-3 tire here, a Soviet MIG-25 flight suit there, among B-1 bomber cushions, C-54 ejection seats and F-86 fighter-jet machine-gun bullets.

Where does Mumaw find it all?

"Friends," he says. "Most of the time, they find me . They say, 'Hey, Jim, I just got my hands on this. Are you interested?' "

As Mumaw talks on, little Katrina tags along like a prop girl.

He reminisces about Katrina's first flight, when she was 5 and they rode together in a vintage, open-cockpit biplane: "The pilot cut the engine a little bit, and you could hear the wind whistling through the wires."

He points to a pile of flight gear. "There's the helmet you wore. . .--right there," he tells Katrina.

The tour plods on--to aviator Douglas (Wrong Way) Corrigan's autobiography (signed by him for Katrina) and to signed photos of Neil Armstrong, Chuck Yeager, John Glenn, Sally Ride and Amelia Earhart.

Mumaw points out two chunks of dark, rock-like material. "These," he says, "fly faster than any airplane."

"Meteorites!" Katrina says.

One was found in western Australia, the other in Chile, her father says. "I had to get these the hard way," he adds. "I had to buy these."

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