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Thoughts on Aviation Museums

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  • Jim Hodgson
    Good morning, Got this from one of our Board members the other day and thought I would sending it along for your consideration. As many of you know, we are in
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 11 8:25 AM
      Good morning,
          Got this from one of our Board members the other day and thought I would sending it along for your consideration.  As many of you know, we are in the midst of planning the build out and development of the Forward Air Controller's Museum.  We will soon be developing a fund raising effort to built the interior of the FACM.  I will have some more comments after you read this short article.
       From yesterday's Arizona Daily Star:

      Scottsdale air museum flops
      SCOTTSDALE - Construction of a museum featuring World War II fighter aircraft has been halted.
      Plans to build the International Fighter Pilots Museum near Scottsdale Airport were grounded for financial reasons, museum director Don Owens said. "We couldn't get the money to buy the airplanes," Owens said.

      The museum was expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors annually. Plans also called for the museum to offer student curriculum and corporate training opportunities.

      Tucson-based Arizona Aerospace Foundation attempted to raise $6 million to construct a 100,000-square-foot building and acquire aircraft and memorabilia. However, the foundation only raised about $2 million.

      That money will go to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, along with a P-47 Thunderbolt already acquired by the defunct museum, Owens said.

      Walt Shiel
      Author, "Cessna Warbirds"
      Publisher, Slipdown Mountain Publications
      Fiction, Aviation History, Flight Manuals, Artwork 

          Obviously $6 million is a lot of money.  The Bronco Association and FACM are members of a group here in north Texas called NOTAAM, North Texas Association of Aviation Museums.  We are well aware of the struggles of museums to keep their doors open, whether that is an established one like the American Airlines C. R. Smith Museum or one trying to open like the B-36 Peacemaker Museum.  Funding all of these endeavors is always tough and has become even tougher the last few years.  Corporate donations have all but dried up.  Foundations have been donation less since they have less to give and the requirements have become more stringent.  All things considered, keeping doors open on a museum is a challenge.

          When we first initiated the OV-10 Bronco Association Ready Room build out, a small group of people with limited funds build a "launch pad."  That effort has been well received and is a place for us to display our treasures and tell our stories.  We are in the midst of doing the same for the FACM and completing that task will not be easy.  If saving our heritage is important, it will be expensive.  While some of us attended the All FAC Association reunion in San Antonio last May, we heard many comments about our fledgling efforts to preserve our history.  One comment had particular interest for me, "they don't even own any land for a museum."  True statement, and it started some of us thinking.   

          None of us here have ever considered our Bronco Ready Room a be all to end all, just a starting point.  It is 1,200 square feet of self help, no big benefactors, no big grants, just a lot of you digging into your collective pockets, sweat equity and heart.  Granted, it is a huge advance form the little closet we started in, but what's next, where do we go from here?

          So, where do we go from here?  The FACM is a nice step forward as it will provide a stage for a lot of diverse groups to spotlight their heritage and compliment the OBA Ready Room. But, where do we go next?  We, the OBA BOD, have kicked that idea around for the last few years and here is where it all stands so far.  Ultimately, how much space do we need and want to be able to perpetually tell the story of the Forward Air Control and Close Air Support?  The main hangar we are in is about 25,000 square feet and sits on about 8 acres of land at an airport.  All of these aspects are important considerations, we need an indoor areas for display and storage, and outdoor area for static displays and a runway to provide flying activities.

          If we break it all down it looks a little like this.  A 25,000 square foot building will cost minimally $50 per square foot to build or in this case, $1.25 million.  Airport land around here is going for $750,000 per acre.  The Memorial Air Park we are planning will take up close to 5 acres.  So, land for static displays even with a buy one get one free would cost million and a half or so, so now we are at the $2.25 million dollar mark and we haven't even started breathing hard.  Aircraft purchases, furnishings, display cases, etc and we would easily be at $4 million.  There are alternatives, but any way you slice it a PERPETUAL museum to tell our story is going to be costly.

          So, what's the point of all this?  It is a reality check folks.  This museum in Arizona has called it quits.  The B-36 Peacemaker Museum is struggling to fund their dream, (and use our Ready Room to do it).  To go beyond where we are is going to cost major dollars and we need your help to do that.  We need ideas and contacts to fund our collective past into the future.  Your heritage can end up in a garage sale or a place of our own or some vast warehouse out so sight and out of mind.  Send us your ideas and contacts, or better still become a part of our development efforts. We will be formulating an annual fund raiser to start or FACM build out and OBA requirements, but long term planning needs your input.

          Let's not let this flop happen to us.

      Best regards,

      Jim Hodgson

      OBA President



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