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Planes in his veins: 10-year-old aircraft enthusiast enjoys giving museum tours

Ten-year-old Braden Hagen, right, describes the workings of a P-51 Mustang fighter to Bill Brooks, 4, of Fargo while giving a tour of the Fargo Air Museum. David Samson / The Forum

Listening to Braden Hagen describe the planes at the Fargo Air Museum might lead one to believe the tour guide once flew them.

He's 10.

The Fargo boy plans to be a fighter pilot when he grows up, but until then, he's soaking up anything and everything about airplanes.

Hagen has spent the past two years volunteering at the museum two to three days a week, giving tours and answering questions about the planes on display.

He led 4-year-old Bill Brooks around earlier this week. For each aircraft, Hagen rattled off the year of production, if and when it was shot down and facts about its ammunition and propellers.

Most sentences start with "did you know."

Brooks' eyes widened as Hagen showed him where the torpedoes were held inside a Grumman TBM Avenger, explaining "they're used to blow holes in ships in the sea."

"Does that explode?" Brooks asked.

"Yes, it goes 'KABOOM!' " Hagen replied before leading him to the next plane.

Brooks' mother, Emily, said she tries to bring her son to the museum at least once a month.

"His interest is so much more when it's coming from a kid, I think," she said.

The museum has about a dozen child volunteers, but Hagen stands out, museum director Fran Brummund said.

"He just absorbs it," she said, saying remembering facts comes naturally to him.

Airplanes have been interesting to Hagen his entire life, according to his mother, Lesa, who said she remembers him tracking planes in the sky with his eyes when he was just 6 months old.

But Hagen isn't only interested in planes. Recently, he decided to ask for donations to give to the Fargo Police Department K-9 Unit instead of gifts for his 10th birthday.

"I thought it was a good idea because they just help protect Fargo," he said.

Hagen raised $140 for the unit at his birthday party, which included a visit and presentation from handler Officer Jim VanLith and Koa.