Carolinas Aviation Museum holding groundbreaking for new facility

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – The former Carolinas Aviation Museum will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its new 105,000-square-foot facility adjacent to Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Sept. 27.

City, county and state officials are expected to be on hand as plans are revealed for the new museum, intended to be a high-profile cultural tourism attraction and educational resource that will boost economic opportunity, especially on Charlotte’s disadvantaged west side.

The museum’s transformational vision is being supported by a public-private partnership that includes individuals, corporations, foundations and public funding that recognizes the potential impact of the reimagined museum, fitting for the First In Flight state.

[Honeywell commits $1.5 million to Carolinas Aviation Museum’s campaign to build STEM Innovation Center at CLT Airport]

The future facility will be renamed in honor of Capt. CB “Sully” Sullenberger, who landed US Airways Flight 1549 safely in New York City’s Hudson River in 2009. The actual plane is the museum’s featured exhibit.

The museum will have more than 45 historic aircraft, and the multi-building campus will also include flight simulators, immersive multimedia, interactive exhibits and STEM education programs.

“It’s extremely uplifting to have so much momentum, buoyed by the generous public and private support for our mission of improving lives and economic opportunities through the innovative and expanding field of aviation,” said Stephen Saucier, president of the Carolinas Aviation Museum, in an issued press release. “For centuries humans dreamed of flying, and now this museum will utilize the wonder of flight to inspire the next generation into the STEM fields and to celebrate our state’s growing aviation and aerospace industries.”

The new museum is being developed in concert with Charlotte Douglas International Airport and will be included as part of an initiative spearheaded by UNC Charlotte known as the Charlotte Aviation Innovation and Research (AIR) Institute. The collaboration will leverage the airport as a “living laboratory” to propel workforce development, economic growth, transformative research and social mobility.

“This new facility and the museum’s new focus on workforce development creates a future vision that can create and broaden critical workforce development efforts to many in our community, including those historically underserved,” said Charlotte Douglas Chief Executive Officer Haley Gentry. “Our continued success as a city, county and state depends on innovative collaboration across sectors – this new museum will help make those connections.”

Along with the airport, the museum is working with architects Progressive AE and exhibit designers Freeman Ryan Design to develop the new campus, which will be located at the historic WPA Douglas hangar, originally built in 1936-1937 by the Works Progress Administration. It will span three buildings in addition to an outdoor plaza that will house historic aircraft and provide direct viewing of the active runways and taxiways at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

“The museum will be a wonderful new resource for all county residents. It’s exciting to think about the students who will be able to participate in STEM education in ways that the Carolinas Aviation Museum can be uniquely designed to deliver,” said Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio.

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