Museum of Aviation’s World War II Hangar on target for mid 2008 grand opening

  • Published
  • By Holly L. Birchfield
  • 78th ABW/PA
The Museum of Aviation's plans for a new World War II Hangar have recently produced tangible results that can be seen from Ga. Highway 247.

Construction began moving on the 60,000-square-foot hangar, which is to be located just north of the museum's Century of Flight Hangar, with a ceremonial ground breaking in September.

In a matter of a few months, site work was completed and by June of this year, framing for the wall sheets were in place.

The $4 million hangar, which was designed and built by JMA Architects in Perry, Ga, and Piedmont Construction Group of Macon, is expected to be completed by mid-2008, and the Museum of Aviation and the Museum of Aviation Foundation couldn't be happier.

Marilyn Ashmore, Capital Campaign director for the Museum of Aviation Foundation, said the hangar will open doors for growth at the museum.

"We presently have 51 acres at the museum and we have four buildings," she said. "All of them currently have exhibits and aircraft and don't have much room for bringing in additional planes from outdoors. So we really needed to build new buildings and a couple of years ago decided that we would."

The sprawling hangar will house about 16 World War II aircraft and several displays including the Flying Tigers, the 14th Air Force, the P-40 Warhawk, the Tuskegee Airmen, and the story of the hump pilots from the war era.

About three aircraft from each of the museum's existing buildings and about three to four aircraft from the museum's outside displays will join to create the new hangar's aircraft collection, Ms. Ashmore said.

Ms. Ashmore said plans are already in the works for the hangar's displays.

"We're already in the planning for the story line and for all of the artifacts and everything that will come together inside the building," she said.

The hangar will accommodate five large exhibits, Ms. Ashmore said.

Pat Bartness, president and chief operating officer of the Museum of Aviation's Foundation, said he's looking forward to what the hangar has in store.

"It's going up very quickly, as everybody can see," he said. "We must be at least six weeks ahead of schedule, so that's a good thing. We want to get it up as soon as we can so as many World War II veterans as possible can see it and appreciate it and know that we're going to remember them and think about the tremendous things they did in World War II."

The aviation museum foundation president said the new addition will bring many educational opportunities for teaching math, science and meteorology lessons tied to the war.

In addition, Mr. Bartness said the moving of aircraft from areas like the Eagle Building and other nearby hangers will create room for displays that center on Robins Air Force Base's more current missions and the history of how Robins came to be.

Ken Emery, Museum of Aviation director, said the World War II hangar will allow the museum to better tell the story of aviation history.

"We're really excited about the hangar going up," he said. "Of course, it's going to add 60,000 square feet to display space and that's 60,000 square feet for us to shelter some aircraft out of the weather. We're looking towards the end of the year as the building finishes up to move the first airplanes inside."

Once the hangar is completed with displays and aircraft, the building will be worth $5.4 million.

The Museum of Aviation's Foundation has been raising the money for the project through various means and continues to find means to fund the project.