Craig O’Neill

Marketing Communications Manager


SEATTLE—At a ground breaking ceremony today, The Museum of Flight officially launched the first phase of a three-part master expansion plan that will more than double the size of the Museum facility over the next ten years. This ambitious physical expansion is being driven by the Museum’s vision of being not just a repository of artifacts but the pre-eminent forum for experiencing and celebrating the wonder of flight.

“The expansion will enable The Museum of Flight to realize its ambition of becoming a venue in which visitors of all ages and backgrounds can not only see historically significant air- and spacecraft but also hear the voices of their pilots and designers,” said H. Eugene McBrayer, chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “Our patrons will be able to immerse themselves in times and places far removed from everyday life and interact with the history and the future of flight more personally and profoundly than ever before.”

The first phase of the expansion, supported by a $59.3 million capital campaign, will result in the construction of the Personal Courage Wing, an 88,000-square-foot addition at the north end of the Museum’s existing campus. Slated to open to the public in the Spring of 2004, the Personal Courage Wing will provide a Seattle home for the aircraft of the Museum’s Champlin Fighter Collection, currently on display in Mesa, Ariz.

Widely heralded as the “Smithsonian of Fighters,” the Champlin collection was acquired by The Museum of Flight in 2000. Its 23 World War I and World War II fighters will anchor two major galleries featuring interactive exhibits focusing on the human stories of the individuals— some famous and some little known—whose vision, courage, sacrifice and determination forged

the shape of our world in the crucible of two global wars. The exhibits in the Personal Courage Wing will not glorify war, but they will pay homage to the strength and resilience of the human spirit represented by individuals on all sides of the conflicts.

“At root, The Museum of Flight has always been about people, not airplanes per se,” said Museum president and chief executive officer Ralph Bufano. “All of us at the Museum believe that flight is one of the most triumphant expressions of the human spirit. We believe that the expansion we are embarking on today will enable us to tell that story in new ways that will make it more accessible and more vital to a wider audience than ever before.”

The second phase of the master expansion plan, to be launched after the completion of the Personal Courage Wing, will be the Red Barn Pavilion. This steel-and-glass structure will join the existing Great Gallery and the new Personal Courage Wing, thereby completely enclosing the Red Barn—the 1909 all-wooden factory building that is the birthplace of The Boeing Co. and the Museum’s largest artifact. The Red Barn Pavilion will not only protect this historical treasure from the weather but will also create an additional 22,000 square-feet of gallery space that will be used to tell the regional story of aviation in the Pacific Northwest.

The final phase of the Museum’s expansion will consist of a Commercial Aviation Wing to be built to the northwest of the existing Museum campus across East Marginal Way. This enormous structure, which will be connected to the Personal Courage Wing via a skybridge, will ultimately house the very large artifacts of the Museum’s unparalleled commercial aircraft collection, including the prototypes of the Boeing 727, 737 and 747 airliners, among many others. The Commercial Aviation Wing will also house a dedicated Space Gallery.

The Museum of Flight’s master expansion plan is estimated to be a $140 million project in total. Its completion will make the Museum the largest independent air and space museum in the world. Design work for all three phases of the expansion has been undertaken by NBBJ, the Seattle architecture firm that designed SAFECO Field, the highly regarded home of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Seattle-based companies Sellen Construction and the Seneca Real Estate Group have been chosen as prime contractor and project management firm, respectively.


The independent, non-profit Museum of Flight is one of the largest air and space museums in the world. The Museum’s collection includes more than 135 historically significant air- and spacecraft, as well as the Red Barn—the original manufacturing facility of The Boeing Co. The Museum’s aeronautical library and archival holdings are the largest on the West Coast. More than 100,000 children are served annually by the Museum’s on-site and outreach educational programs—the most extensive museum-based youth aviation and space education program in the country. The Museum of Flight is one of only 750 museums in the nation and nine in Washington state that are fully accredited by the American Association of Museums.