New museum, educational facility planned by nonprofit
By ALLISON GATLIN Valley Press Staff Writer • Feb 21, 2022
EDWARDS AFB — As Edwards Air Force Base celebrates its 75th year of flight test breakthroughs, the museum dedicated to preserving and sharing its impressive history and inspiring the next generation of aerospace milestones is launching a new effort.
The Flight Test Museum Foundation, the nonprofit dedicated to raising funds and developing the Air Force Flight Test Museum, announced new partners, including new designs for the planned museum and educational facility.
Global architecture and design firm Gensler developed a new concept and is aiding in the continuing capital campaign to bring the vision to fruition.
The new design vision “marries the rectangular shape of an airplane hangar with the dynamic geometry of a (F-117) Nighthawk aircraft,” according to release presenting the concept.
The angular roofline recalls the dart-shaped F-117 stealth fighter and the batwing B-2 stealth bomber.
The 60,000-foot hangar exhibit space has an additional 15,000 square feet for a welcome lounge, gallery space, classrooms, library and a gift shop. A “Pancho Barnes Happy Bottom Riding Club” bar will pay tribute to the legendary pilot and her club frequented by Edwards test pilots during its early days of flight test.
The space will house more than 80 historic aircraft, as well as provide views of the outdoor exhibits. An upper gallery space overlooking the hangar will provide an alternate vantage point for viewing the artifacts from the museum’s collection.
The gallery offers flexibility to host fundraisers, events and rotating exhibits.
Foundational work has begun on the new museum on Rosamond Boulevard just outside the base’s West Gate. The new location will not only allow more space to display the museum’s impressive collection, but also provide a home to a state-of-the-art STEM Education Center.
Both will be accessible to the general public, without requiring access to the base as is needed now to visit the small existing museum.
While a history museum necessarily features artifacts of the past, the Air Force Flight Test Museum also is focused on the future, ensuring the continued development of cutting-edge technology by the next generation through its educational programs.
The Flight Test Museum Foundation — formerly the Flight Test Historical Foundation — was created in 1983, specifically to open a museum to preserve and display artifacts of flight test and other associated local history, and to inspire the next generation to carry on the work. This culminated in the 12,000-square-foot facility which opened at Edwards AFB in 2000.
However, since base access was tightened, in 2001, it has been difficult to share the history with the public.
The planned new museum is designed to function as a center for science, technology, engineering and math education. It will draw on the history of the Air Force Flight Test Center, as well NASA and other partners such as the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
Information on the museum, the foundation and the educational programs available may be found online at www.flighttestmuseum.org