The Air Force Flight Test Foundation has enlisted Gensler to develop capital campaign assets to help raise funds for the creation of a new museum and STEM Center just outside the boundary of Edwards Air Force Base in California’s Antelope Valley, a site steeped in aviation lore and discovery. The multi-disciplinary team brought together experts from brand design, architecture, and museum design to create a vision for the future of the Flight Test Museum.
The Museum’s re-imagination coincides with the rise of commercial space exploration and the 75th Anniversary of the breaking of the sound barrier in this same air space. The area has seen significant aerospace milestones such as the testing of America’s first jet aircraft, the breaking of the sound barrier, rocket-plane flights to the edge of space, and the first glide flights of NASA’s Space Shuttle. Indeed, the Antelope Valley remains a hub for developmental flight testing to this day, for all of the original reasons. The skill and spirit of all those who participated in this incredible body of work shaped both the modern world and the American persona. Many of these historic endeavors are unknown to the world outside the Antelope Valley, and much of what is known is shrouded in myth and legend due to the nature of classified work. The new Flight Test Museum and STEM center will make that history accessible by literally bringing it outside the Edwards Gate.
A significant amount of space flight testing happens at the facility, with many outside experts coming to test new technologies. Additionally, the STEM education program is one of the most important elements of the Museum, as it inspires and enables young people to learn about aerospace and flight tests.
The design vision for the new Museum marries the rectangular shape of an airplane hangar with the dynamic geometry of a Nighthawk aircraft. The angular roof element funnels down to the ground floor entrance, which helps guide visitors to the main lobby and creates a dramatic sense of welcome. The linear sequence throughout the space leverages the 60,000-square-foot hangar and will add 15,000 square feet of multifaceted programming for a welcome lounge, gallery space, classrooms, library, and gift shop. A branded bar named Pancho Barnes Happy Bottom Riding Club Bar will pay homage to Florence Lowe “Pancho” Barnes, the legendary female aviator who founded the first movie stunt pilots’ union.
The gallery space will house more than 80 historic aircraft, as well as provide views of the outdoor exhibits for the Nighthawk and Black Hawk aircraft. An upper gallery space looks into the hangar, providing an alternate vantage point for viewing the artifacts from the Museum’s collection. The unprogrammed gallery offers flexibility to host fundraisers, events, and rotating exhibits. Ultimately, the new Flight Test Museum and STEM Center will preserve and protect the rich history of the Aerospace Valley, while connecting it to a new generation.
About The Flight Test Museum Foundation
The Flight Test Museum Foundation’s educational mission is to promote interest and generate excitement for K-12 students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) through a focused educational outreach campaign about flight testing, aerospace, and Edwards Air Force Base.
To achieve this goal, the Flight Test Museum Foundation is committed to providing open-access educational resources in STEM subjects for teachers, students, and families. These resources enable them to engage in exploration and understanding of STEM in aerospace and flight testing, build learning opportunities for Southern California students, and provide an educational center where students can learn and explore.
The mission of the Flight Test Museum Foundation (FTMF) is to raise funds to support the development of the Air Force Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB. The FTMF’s fundraising efforts focus on museum improvements, exhibits, and aircraft acquisition/restoration. They are actively engaged in STEM education and the construction of a new, more accessible museum facility. The Flight Test Museum Foundation (FTMF) is a private, tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization. The FTMF is not a part of the Department of Defense or any of its components, and it has no governmental status. For more information about the Flight Test Museum, visit www.flighttestmuseum.org