Carolinas Aviation Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate that has served as a hub of community engagement for aviation history and STEM education in the Charlotte region for nearly three decades, today is announcing a $1.5 million gift from Charlotte-based Honeywell, catalyzing the launch of the public phase of the museum’s largest fundraising effort to date – “The Lift Off Campaign.”
The gift from Honeywell, a Fortune 100 technology company that, among other industry-specific solutions, produces aerospace products and services found on virtually every commercial, defense and space aircraft, brings the Lift Off Campaign’s quiet phase funding total to $10 million, including $3.5 million in additional private contributions from unnamed donors. The $10 million also includes an expected $5 million from Charlotte Douglas International Airport for site development.
The goal of The Lift-Off Campaign is to raise $22 million in cash investments – plus several million dollars of in-kind support – toward the creation of a state-of-the-art STEM innovation center on airport property, with construction expected to begin in early 2022 and a planned opening in 2023.
“Honeywell is proud to partner with the Carolinas Aviation Museum on its campaign to bring a world-class, STEM-focused community asset to the west side of Charlotte and the grounds of Charlotte Douglas International Airport,” said Honeywell Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk. “The new museum will provide students with invaluable educational experiences that help open the door to careers in STEM fields, including aviation.”
The reimagined Carolinas Aviation Museum, which will be developed in partnership with Charlotte Douglas International Airport, will house dozens of aircraft and include exhibits such as interactive cockpits, flight simulators, and historic artifacts that chronicle the region’s indelible connection to the wonder of flight and aviation innovation. The new facility will be located at the site of Charlotte Douglas International Airport’s historic WPA/Douglas Airport Hangar, which will be restored as part of the museum project.
“We are extremely grateful for the support from the Airport, the City of Charlotte, and the generous investment from Honeywell, and we are ready to lift off on our next phase to create an exciting new facility that matches the innovation we seek to inspire,” said Carolinas Aviation Museum President Stephen Saucier. “We are looking forward to once again connecting in person with the region, contributing to Charlotte’s cultural tourism and economic growth, and providing impactful hands-on learning opportunities in STEM that will help address economic mobility.”
Honeywell will sponsor three key areas in the new museum. The first is a themed exhibition zone in the new Main Gallery known as Innovation Nation that presents the history of aviation as a testament to humankind’s capacity for creativity and imagination of possibilities beyond the known. US Airways Flight 1549, the Miracle on the Hudson plane, will be on display in Innovation Nation. Honeywell’s 131-9A auxiliary power unit, or APU, played a critical role in enabling the Airbus aircraft to touch down safely in the Hudson River in New York City on January 15, 2009. Honeywell is also sponsoring the museum’s Maker Space, in which youth can learn about aviation via interactive, hands-on activities, and a Career Center, which will serve as a vital resource to help students and area adults connect to careers in STEM-based industries.
Honeywell’s support over the last several years helped Carolinas Aviation Museum deliver classroom and virtual STEM education programming to more than 9,000 students throughout the Charlotte region.
As a result of the campaign, Carolinas Aviation Museum hopes to welcome more than 100,000 visitors annually and connect more than 15,000 students to STEM programming and career development labs.
Carolinas Aviation Museum, a private nonprofit, was founded in 1991 by Floyd Swinton Wilson and his wife Lois and has operated as a “museum without walls” offering virtual exhibitions and community STEM programs funded by Honeywell since vacating its original location in 2019. Now, the new museum will seek to celebrate North Carolina as the birthplace of aviation and immerse visitors in the history of flight.
“From First in Flight to now housing one of the top 10 busiest airports in the world, the Carolinas have played an integral role in aviation history,” said Haley Gentry, aviation director of Charlotte Douglas International Airport. “As Charlotte Douglas continues to advance our mission to connect people and places, we are proud to support Carolinas Aviation Museum and its vision to connect our region’s celebrated past to its bright future.”
“The new Carolinas Aviation Museum will be a dynamic cultural attraction that will connect visitors to the Carolinas’ storied aviation past and elevates educational opportunities and experiences for people of all backgrounds,” said museum board chair Marc Oken, who is chairing the capital campaign. “We are humbled that donors will be able to see their dollars come to life in an immersive space that ignites creativity and inspires the next generation of aviation engineers, educators, and experts.”
About Carolinas Aviation Museum
Carolinas Aviation Museum is Charlotte’s most uplifting destination, a place where visitors can be inspired by the everyday heroism of flight, learn about the science of aviation and its importance to our region, and experience the living history of flying through a wide variety of artifacts and aircraft. Carolinas Aviation Museum is a recipient of support from the Infusion Fund, a partnership between the City of Charlotte, Foundation For The Carolinas, and generous donors to support the arts and cultural sector. For more information, visit www.carolinasaviation.org.