WarbirdsNews has recently visited the newly renovated Delta Flight Museum located in the airline’s two original 1940s-era aircraft maintenance hangars at the heart of Delta’s headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. The 68,000 square-foot facility traces Delta’s history, and the development of commercial aviation. Delta held a grand re-opening event at the museum to coincide with the 85th anniversary of their first passenger flight which flew from Dallas, Texas to Jackson, Missouri on June 17th, 1929.
The Delta Airlines Foundation and other sponsors paid for the renovations to the museum’s hangars, which were listed as a Historic Aerospace Site in 2011. Delta’s chief executive officer, Richard Anderson, stated that, “This museum is a testament to the rich history and unique culture of Delta, which has always been deeply rooted in our people, the museum also commemorates Delta’s contributions to passenger aviation, which influences economic growth and development and fosters greater understanding across cultures. We are proud to welcome the world to the Delta Flight Museum as we celebrate our 85th anniversary of passenger service.”
There are literally hundreds of artifacts on display, many previously unseen, which help tell the story of Delta’s remarkable history, alongside the common thread of commercial aviation. The museum features five historic aircraft, including a Travel Air 6B Sedan of the type used for Delta’s first passenger flight in 1929, and “The Spirit of Delta”, a Boeing 767 which company employees purchased for the airline in 1982. Also on display is a Douglas DC-3 which actually served the airline back in the 1930s. Delta employees and volunteers restored the aircraft, known as “Ship 41”, some years ago.
Georgia’s Governor, Nathan Deal, spoke at the grand re-opening celebration, saying that, “For decades, Delta Air Lines has served as a major economic engine for our state, it’s an honor to be here today, both to showcase the rich history of commercial aviation in Georgia and to honor the thousands of people who have worked to make Delta one of the world’s most successful airlines.” Atlanta’s Mayor, Kasim Reed, said, “The opening of the new Delta Flight Museum represents the addition of a world-class facility that honors and celebrates our city’s longstanding and historic partnership with Delta. We are delighted to celebrate Delta’s 85th anniversary of passenger service and look forward to building on a relationship that solidifies our city’s position as the business and cultural center of the South through global engagement and international commerce.”
The museum houses a 117-seat theater and a 30-seat conference room located inside the fuselage of a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. The cockpit from a Convair 880 jet airliner is also on display. Additionally, visitors can have the ultimate aviation experience by piloting a Boeing 737-200 full-motion simulator formerly used to train Delta pilots; the only one open to the public in the USA.
A museum tour starts with Delta’s beginnings as a crop-dusting operation in the rural South, then passes through the early days of propeller-powered passenger service and into the jet age. A special exhibit honors Delta’s founder and first CEO, C.E. Woolman, and features his portrait along with quotes and personal items. Visitors may explore the museum at their own pace on a self-guided tour, but guided tours are available as well. Special interactive features, including a Boeing 767 pilot pre-flight checklist, as well as a scavenger hunt, engage children touring the museum. There is also a retail store with hundreds of Delta Airlines and aviation-related items for sale, including aircraft models, clothing and accessories.
The museum, located on the corporate campus, is built around Hangars One and Two which are in “like new” 1940 period condition. Hangar one holds the Delta Air Transport Heritage Museum, which includes the Travel Air, Stinson, DC-3, Waco 125 and others, alongside the L-1011 mock up museum gift shop, corporate archives storage, and the façade of the first Delta Air Lines headquarters building originally located in Monroe, Louisiana. The building also holds support spaces and infrastructure for the public museum spaces and exhibits, museum administration, and corporate archives.
Hangar two is roughly 31,150 square feet. It will serve as an ad hoc exhibition hall with many possible furniture configurations, from large assemblies to lecture and conference seating, to banquet dining with seating and tables placed around and under “The Spirit of Delta” 767. Stevens & Wilkinson, the museum’s developer, converted the pair of unique, historically significant aircraft hangars into a state of the art museum celebrating their client’s rich history, passion, and industrial leadership.
In April, the museum moved two additional airliners to the site: Ship 608, a Boeing 757-200 resplendent in the type’s first paint markings; and Ship 9880, a Douglas DC-9-50. Both of these aircraft are on display outdoors, with the 757 being at the museum entrance.
The hangar space also serves as a unique public and private rental venue to host meetings, conferences and other events with state-of-the-art audio and video capability and full catering services that can accommodate a seated dinner for as many as 1,200 guests. The Delta Flight Museum’s major sponsors include the Delta Airlines Foundation, American Express, Airbus, the New York Yankees, ST Aerospace and Aero BridgeWorks.
Further details about the hours of operation, admission fees, event rental, simulator fees and directions are available on the museum’s website HERE.
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