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Spreading Its Wings: USAF National Museum Plans Fourth Building

Written by on Monday, August 13th, 2012

A few months ago I went on a comprehensive virtual tour through the massive National Museum of the United States Air Force, covering everything from the Wright brothers’ first wind tunnel to the USAF’s experimental aircraft of the future. If you missed out you can still take a digital walk through the facility:

If that seems like a lot, well, you’d be right. The National Museum of the USAF is absolutely gigantic (it would have to be in order to store such huge aircraft) and it’s about to get even bigger with a fourth building. The Air Force Museum Foundation has just announced that they have awarded a $58,000 contract to Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure, a Cincinnati-based company that will do an environmental assessment of a new building site. They’ll take care of the regulatory review, an evaluation of the project, and do all of that complicated legal stuff that needs to be checked off before you can build a gigantic hangar capable of housing military aircraft.

This new, fourth building will include a jaw-dropping 224,000 square feet. Just to put that into perspective, a standard football field has about 57,600 square feet, including the end zones. That means that this building will be roughly four football fields put together. So, be sure to pack your hiking shoes the next buy cheap antibiotics time you decide to visit the National Museum of the USAF.

The building will house the Space Gallery, the Presidential Aircraft Gallery, the Global Reach Gallery, and a bunch of miscellaneous educational programs. This will include the Space Shuttle Exhibit, a reproduction shuttle payload pay, tail, and engine section that will be built around NASA’s retired space shuttle crew compartment trainer — a trainer that was used by every single astronaut in the Shuttle Program.

You can see a planned outline of the exhibit here. It will include important pieces of US aviation history, such as the C-141 Hanoi Taxi, the Douglas VC-54 used by presidents Roosevelt and Truman, and a Titan IV space launch vehicle. Being able to explore just one of these aircraft would be exciting all on its own — seeing all of them in one spot is a dream come true for aviation aficionados.

By the looks of things, construction might take a while. The environmental contract won’t be completed until March of 2013, and even then the Air Force Museum Foundation’s bank statement isn’t as high as they’d like. They’ve raised $39.3 million of its projected $48 million goal. Assuming that they can find the remaining $8.7 million, construction will start next year and will probably be finished at some point in 2015. You can give them a helping hand and help immortalize an important piece of US history by making a donation to the Air Force Museum Foundation here.

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