LANCASTER, Calif.–In welcoming supporters to the 2023 Gathering of Eagles banquet, Foundation Board Chairman Art Thompson announced, “We put up the steel wall structures for the first 60,000-square-foot building.”
The wall raising took place just ahead of Edwards AFB opening its gates to the public for a three-day air show, open house and STEM Day for more than 9,000 young students from schools all around Southern and Central California.
The Gathering of Eagles banquet supports the Flight Test Historical Foundation’s mission to complete a one of its kind aerospace museum, STEM education facility and international conference center and headquarters for the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP)and its unique archival collection in the SETP’s new Bob Hoover Library and STEP STEM classrooms.
That said, an energized and enthusiastic aerospace company leader Thompson moved on to building financial support for the work of enclosing and making the interior space comfortable and inviting for coming generations of scientists, technicians, pilots, engineers, designers and leaders in technology, transportation, trade and commerce.
He termed the skyward pointing steel wall spires inspiring landmarks where the smartest people in the world are drawn to work. It was just a year ago that the Flight Test Historical Foundation completed the enormous job of site preparation and pouring the steel-reinforced foundation.
George Welch, professional curator and director of the existing small museum near the center of Edwards AFB, and mostly inaccessible to most visitors, is eager to see the inventory of rare and historically prized experimental aircraft relocated to the floor of the new, secure, and weather-sheltered museum building open to public access just outside the Rosamond Boulevard’s west security gate.
Welch said the new main hangar display floor will accommodate 35 of the most vulnerable specimens in the museum’s ever-expanding inventory of now over 80 aircraft.
Next steps will include architectural facades, wind and sunscreens and visitor amenities.
In addition to its major commitment to leadership in raising private sector donations for completion of the Aerospace Valley Museum, the Flight Test Historical Foundation’s scholarship committee annually awards two $2,000 memorial scholarships in memory of distinguished Aerospace Valley test pilots, G. Gordon Fullerton, Air Force test pilot and NASA test pilot and Space Shuttle astronaut, and William J. “Pete” Knight, fighter pilot, test pilot, astronaut, and after retirement elected to local municipal government offices and the California State Legislature.
Recipient of this year’s “Pete” Knight Excellence in Aerospace Scholarship was Yesenia A. Morales, a mechanical engineering student.
Engineering student Robert Brown was the recipient of the 2022 C. Gordon Fullerton Memorial Scholarship.
For additional information on the Flight Test Historical Foundation, visit the website at flighttestmuseum.org.
The FTHF is a private non-profit organization, not a part of the Department of Defense or any of its components, and it has no government status. The organization and the museum rely heavily on volunteers, especially those with aerospace skills in restoration and maintenance.