From French farmhouses to battlefield trenches complete with authentic-looking sandbags, The Museum of Flight is making steady progress toward the opening of its new Personal Courage Wing on June 6th – the 60th anniversary of D-Day. It’s an aggressive goal, but lately, The Museum of Flight is batting a thousand in reaching its goals – whether it be acquiring original documents from the Wright (Brothers) Company, a Concorde from British Airways or some of the world’s greatest fighters from the internationally famous Champlin Fighter Collection.

The Personal Courage Wing is being built to properly house, protect, and showcase the 28 restored World War I and World War II aircraft now in the Museum’s priceless collection. It also is being designed to tell the stories of personal courage, dedication and heroism of those who flew, built and maintained these aircraft. Currently, restoration teams are finishing the loading and assembly of these aircraft into the new wing, while scenic designers are building the theatrical sets and exhibits that will surround these stunning aircraft. At the same time, the Museum is making a final fund-raising push to raise the $10 million needed to help finish the project. Generous donors have already provided more than $43 million to purchase the Champlin Collection and build the new 88,000-square-foot building. However, additional funding is needed to complete the immersive exhibits that will provide new experiences for Museum visitors.

What’s unique about this new building? It is essentially a black box – unlike the Museum’s Great Gallery, a large glass-and-steel structure designed to showcase its air and space collection. The black box allows the Museum to control exposure to light and humidity that might damage artifacts such as priceless documents or uniforms. It also provides exhibit designers a way to recreate events through dramatic lighting, realistic sounds and theatrical sets such as a pilots’ lounge and an aircraft carrier deck, so visitors can experience what it was like to be living during these times.

The interesting stories within the exhibits will be told through a variety of multimedia including warbird flight simulators and live theater programs where historically costumed actors will recreate the stories of fighter pilots and other personalities during those times. So in addition to funding, the Museum is also seeking volunteers who would like share their acting talent with visitors who will learn how ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances contributed to the evolution of fighter aviation technology.

Anyone interesting in contributing their acting talent or funding to the new Personal Courage Wing should contact the Museum at (206) 764-5700.

Museum Makes Steady Progress on New Personal Courage Wing

Scenic designers Cary Hall and Josh Gagnon (left) put finishing touches on a wall of a World War I French farmhouse, while scenic designer Jason Stauffer (right) stacks hand-built sand bags to recreate a World War I battlefield trench within The Museum of Flight’s new Personal Courage Wing. With a grand opening set for June 6th – the 60th anniversary of D-Day, the new wing showcases 28 World War I and II fighters, and tells the stories of personal courage, dedication and heroism of those who flew, built and maintained these stunning aircraft. The Museum is seeking $10 million in a fund-raising campaign to finish the new wing, which further positions the Museum as one of the most respected air and space museums in the world.

Photo credits: Bill Mohn, courtesy of The Museum of Flight