Monday, August 29, 2016

Moffett Field Update

Just looking at the availability of space (land) at this location, it looks like this would be an issue for a large, new air and space museum. As part of Google's (Planetary Ventures) contract with the government to operate and manage the airfield, they naturally want to use the large hangers for internal (business) use. The area between Hwy. 101 and the field is NASA Ames and the NASA Research Park. Space (buildings) in the Research Park is being leased to various start-ups and universities. The long term plan is to continue to share this area and improve the park. In the lease proposal, Google committed to build an educational/conference/museum facility of approx. 90,000 sq. ft. Congratulations to the many people who dedicated their time to this concept, along with saving Hangar One. Unfortunately, the current plan doesn't provide enough space for a truly grand air and space museum, which is the goal discussed here and via a new Facebook website. And, sites for a large, new museum elsewhere are also disappearing at a rapid rate as developers want the space for commercial/residential use. This is the case with the Great Park in Orange County, property next to Long Beach airport and the former Naval weapons depot in Concord, CA. We are still optimistic, though.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Local Politics, the FAA and Rents

I have just returned from a trip to the Seattle/Everett area, where one museum--Historic Flight--has run into some local head winds. A county council actually turned down a proposal to expand the museum. The county argued that an expanded museum, which is located on the airport, would interfere with future hanger development and rental income would be lost. The fact that the proposed expansion would generate increased tourism in the area did not sway the council, at least for now. A related issue is the pressure put on airport management by the FAA to charge equal rents to all airport tenants, whether a non-profit or not. One other museum director has told me he may be faced with a similar situation in the future. While being able to fly large airplanes to their final resting place on a public airport certainly is an advantage, an off-airport location (or a private airport) for a new museum may have to be given serious consideration.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

New Facebook Web Page Established--March 2016

After meeting with a number of museum directors and getting a feel for how things are going, I believe that the goal of a large, new flight museum, in the right location, is still valid. The hardest part at the moment is getting the idea out in front of the public, civic leaders and, of course, those who can help financially. I am finding it challenging dealing with the news media, because media types do not consider the idea to be "news." In an on-going effort to reach out, a Facebook "Page" has been established. Facebook members can search: www.facebook.com/newsouthwestaviationmuseum/

Thursday, December 5, 2013

New Video Now Available

A 6 minute YouTube video on the "Why" and "Where" of a new museum is available at:  youtu.be/uO4eS6FcJNA, or simply search on a few words from the title.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Aircraft Observation Area--Las Vegas

I just returned from a recent business trip to Las Vegas and stopped for a bite to eat at the outdoor Town Square Mall. I couldn't believe my luck. They were landing on runways 1L and 1R. Now this is a place to watch airplanes, as it is only a half-mile from the threshold. I thought, again, how great it would be to have an observation area that is part of a new museum.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hangar One Questions

Hangar One at Moffett Field could provide the space needed, as suggested by some, for a new Air and Space Museum. Unfortunately, I am not sure using this historic structure would be compatible with housing Google's fleet of corporate aircraft. Building codes differentiate between use of space involving the assembly of hundreds of people and things like aircraft full of fuel. The final decision would have to be made by the Building Department based on a “mixed occupancy” design that provides an adequate fire sprinkler system, means of egress, and access for emergency vehicles. Modern day earthquake standards are another hurdle. While I personally believe Moffett doesn't have enough operations (number of takeoffs and landings) for the public to enjoy, there are other positive aspects to this location.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Southwest Air and Space Museum

The Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. is a place where children and grownups alike have the opportunity to explore the wonders of flight. Aircraft and spacecraft of all kinds are on display, along with their histories. Theaters and various audio-visual displays further bring the story of flight to life. The museum is a major tourist destination. In fact, it is the most visited of all the Smithsonian museums, drawing over 8.9 million visitors in 2011 between its Capitol Mall location and its satellite location at Washington Dulles Airport. Contributing factors are its proximity to mass transit and free admission.

Other aviation museums are located across the country. A few are well funded and have historic collections housed in acceptable facilities, a fine example being the National Museum of the Air Force near Dayton, Ohio. However, most are small operations, housing their collections in old facilities or worse, outdoors, where they are at the mercy of the weather. Many of these museums are located on small airports, away from any major city. As a result, visitors are not attracted to them as a destination.

Recognizing the rich aerospace history of the Southwest, and now, the dawn of private spaceflight, I believe the time is right to consider a sizable, new, high caliber museum in this part of the country. The vision of the museum would be to preserve the legacy of aviation, to stimulate an interest in aerospace as a profession for young people, and to allow those who visit the museum to experience the wonders of flight. Due to the scarcity of funds and the limited availability of historic aircraft, I propose that three areas be considered for a single, final site. The best suited areas, I believe, are: the San Francisco Bay area, the Los Angeles/Orange County area and Las Vegas. All three are major tourist draws, with the first two having the additional advantage of large permanent populations (Phoenix was not considered because the number of visitors is less than half that of Las Vegas, nor Tucson, which already has several fine air and space museums). Costs, of course, would be considerable. Space on a former military base may be one way to ease the land acquisition/lease costs. Even better, would be a location near an active airport allowing visitors to view aircraft in flight from an observation area. Then, there is the cost of constructing new facilities or renovating older, existing facilities. Building the aircraft collection itself would be ongoing, and require considerable luck. A private museum also would not have the benefit of its daily operating costs being subsidized by the Federal Government.

Despite these costs and challenges, I have learned to never underestimate the generosity of people for a worthwhile cause, especially one that captures the imagination of the public. Consequently, an abbreviated version of this letter has been forwarded to local newspapers, along with a reference to this blog. This blog is intended to start an ongoing discussion on the subject. Although many other pilots share the dream of a new museum, the involvement of non-pilots is critical, and the pilot population needs to reach out to them.