WWII Aviation Museum plans second phase later this year | Business

More than two years after opening its centerpiece, the National World War II Aviation Museum plans to begin construction on an expansion that will double the size of the room as it celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Site preparation began late last year on the 40,000-square-foot addition to the museum’s Kaija Raven Shook Aviation Pavilion, slated for construction this fall, CEO Bill Klaers said. The timeline will depend on fundraising – the museum has raised around a third of the $7.5 million needed to complete the addition, although new cost estimates on materials are not yet complete and could significantly increase the cost. cost, he said.

“We have substantial commitments from foundations and other donors, but before we take that money, we want to make sure we can start and finish the building,” Klaers said. “Our plans for phase two of the pavilion are the same as for phase one – our exhibits are built around a script that surrounds the aircraft in our collection, and the script for the next phase is already written.”

The museum, located on the west side of the Colorado Springs airport, opened in 2012 and will celebrate its 10th anniversary in October. The facility houses 20 World War II aircraft, many of which are displayed in the pavilion, and emphasizes the key role played by aviation during the war and after, including the creation of the Army of the air from what had been the Army Air Corps and the growth of airlines and the air cargo industry.

“We haven’t finished what we started – we have even more story to tell,” Klaers said. “The story begins with what the Army Air Corps looked like before the war started; we started behind Germany and Japan, but we ended the war as the ‘arsenal of democracy’. We talk about how long it took to train a pilot (one year) and what happened to him after the war – how aviation made the world a lot smaller.”

Klaers estimated the addition would take around a year to build and would make room to house more of the museum’s aircraft collection and other aircraft that donors would donate to the museum if it had room to display them. . Most of the collection had been assembled by Jim Slattery, president of the museum and founder of a San Diego company specializing in the monitoring, screening and genetic testing of prescription drugs.

Most of the collection of rare vintage aircraft has been meticulously reconstructed by WestPac Services, a company Klaers started in the early 1980s near Los Angeles to restore World War II aircraft, which has moved to Colorado Springs in 2009. The museum opened in adjacent hangars before moving. the pavilion, named after a major donor, when it was completed and opened in late 2019.

Another major expansion is planned once the addition is complete. The museum hopes to build an 86,000 square foot Aviation Hall that will house most of its interactive exhibits, tour aircraft as well as an education center and event space. The hall, which is estimated to cost $31.5 million, would allow the museum to host larger meetings and events to generate revenue for its operating and education programs. Construction would begin within three years of the addition opening and be completed two years later.

“We kind of started backwards because the need arose to house the aircraft that had been donated to the museum,” Klaers said. “Once the Aviation Hall is built, you will enter the museum through this building, then walk through the pavilions to view the aircraft, and all educational programs currently housed in the pavilion will be moved to a new education center attached to the hall. . “

The pavilion had only been open for a few months when a state stay-at-home order designed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the museum to close for more than three months and then operate with capacity restrictions for much of the rest of 2020. However, the museum rebounded last year, attracting 44,000 visitors and hosting several big events to help generate revenue, Klaers said. The facility also sponsors monthly conferences and aerial events that attract up to 700 visitors.

“If you pull out 2020 due to COVID restrictions, we’ve met the first-year-to-market visitor forecast and the feasibility study that Summit Economics had conducted for us,” said Board Member Mark Earle. administration of the museum. “We are on track with these projections, and this study predicts 90,000 visitors by 2027, when we expect to be fully operational with all of our facilities. We expect to exceed these projections.”

The museum plans to expand operations in April from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. five days a week to the same hours six days a week and add a seventh day of operations in May. The board plans to maintain that schedule until November, when the museum would resume operations five days a week during the winter months. To accommodate this expansion, Earle said the museum is recruiting additional volunteers beyond the 160 volunteers who now make up its core staff.

Entrance fees for the museum are $17 for adults, $15 for senior citizens or military personnel, and $12 for children 4-12 with discounts available for prepayment. World War II veterans are admitted free. Admission fees help support the museum’s educational programs, which use stories from the museum’s exhibits to interest children in aviation and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

The museum plans to host the Pikes Peak Regional Air Show on September 24-25, featuring the Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II display team, aircraft from the museum’s collection and others vintage aircraft. The event, which will be similar to the 2019 version of the same show, will benefit the museum as well as the Peterson Air & Space Museum at Peterson Space Force Base and the 4th Infantry Division Museum at Fort Carson.

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