After arriving in a vintage Stearman airplane, Houston Mayor Annise Parker congratulated Lone Star Flight Museum board members at a VIP event held to unveil master plans and renderings for a proposed $35 million facility set to open at Ellington Field in late 2016.
“To everyone who has dreamed of flight and has seen the evolution of flight over the years, you are giving a gift to generations that is absolutely irreplaceable,” Parker said. “Thank you and congratulations to the Lone Star Flight Museum team on a job well done. Let’s move it forward.”
The 130,000 square-foot museum will feature interactive exhibits highlighting aviation history, science and technology and is expected to draw aviation enthusiasts from across the country, officials said.
“When you consider the synergies from having NASA and Space Center Houston and then the Lone Star Flight Museum, this area will become a must-attend, must-visit destination for anyone who is passionate about flight,” Parker said. “The Lone Star Flight Museum has the potential to pump millions of dollars into the regional economy and it will also, we hope, be a catalyst for students to continue to implant that dream of aviation and inspire students in every way possible to pursue science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.”
The museum will also feature a state-of-the-art Aviation Learning Center program.
Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar, retired NASA astronaut and Co-Chair of the Lone Star Flight Museum Education Committee said aviation education offers a platform to inspire young people to learn.
“Our city, our state and our country need a significant infusion of talent in science, technology, engineering and math. As an astronaut I saw firsthand the importance of those skills,” Dunbar said. “I started out life as an engineer who helped design and construct the space shuttle more than 30 years ago. Many of our young people do not understand how importance it is for them, every one of them, to have a good foundation in math and science before they graduate from high school in order to be employed in 21st century jobs and careers.
“In this respect aviation has proven to be a great magnet and a wonderful platform for helping to explain this to our young people and to inspire them, not just into aviation but to many other fields as well,” she said. “ Our museum will use this platform in a way we think will be effective and unique and inspirational.
“One of the differentiating features of our museum is our extensive collection of artifacts which visitors can see in their natural habitat, which really is the sky,” Dunbar said. “We are enormously proud of this collection; but we are even more proud of how we plan to exhibit them. We will tell the stories of the men and women in Texas who designed them, who built them and who flew them.”
The museum is expected to cost a total of $35 million. Museum officials said the initial capital campaign raised more than $25 million. Fund raising efforts are under way for an additional $10 million to fund an endowment, education programming and additional exhibits.
“We are planning to break ground on the new facility this spring. Our plan is to have this museum up and running by the Super Bowl,” Scott Rozzell, Vice Chairman, Lone Star Flight Museum said. “We know that this will be an important milestone as new visitors to our community will be seeing the attractions that make the greater Houston area a great place to live and work and a great part of our overall American fabric.”
The Lone Star Museum is relocating from its home of more than 20 years in Galveston after its facility suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Ike.
“The Lone Star Flight Museum has a long and distinguished history here in the region. We are glad that it stayed put. I know there some discussion; I don’t know how serious it was, about completely moving it away. Ellington Field is the perfect place considering the amount of history that was already here and the assets that are here,” Mayor Parker said. “It will continue to benefit the region in the years to come.”
For more information about the Lone Star Flight Museum, visit www.lsfm.org