Midland, Texas (Sept. 12, 2013) - The CAF Airpower Museum unveiled an ambitious plan today to upgrade its facility located at the Midland International Airport. Last July, the Museum’s Board of Directors challenged the museum’s staff to create a plan to revitalize the museum and re-engage the Permian Basin community. Following a year of careful development, the dynamic exhibit renovation plan will be put into action with support from the allocation of funding awarded for 2013-2015 from the State of Texas.
“The board of directors is pleased to see continued support from the state that will allow the CAF Airpower Museum to continue working to achieve its mission,” said Randy Wilson, chairman of the CAF Airpower Museum Board of Directors. “Today’s audience has so much knowledge available at its fingertips and the ways in which people learn has evolved dramatically in a very short period of time. We are excited by the opportunity afforded to us by the generous Texas state to delve into new educational methods and bring an updated, hands-on learning space to Permian Basin residents and visitors.”
The CAF Airpower Museum has been allocated $710,650 of state funds that will be disbursed over two years. A great portion of these funds will be dedicated to the exhibit project, which will support the museum’s mission to educate, “such that generations of Permian Basin residents and visitors will value and support the contributions of military aviation in ensuring our nation’s freedom.” A portion of the funds will be strictly utilized to support other areas of the museum’s educational programs, such as the management of the artifact collection and archives and student education programs. While the funds are a generous start to the project, the CAF Airpower Museum will begin a fundraising campaign to assist in completing the exciting plans.
“For more than twenty years, the CAF Airpower Museum has been a treasured attraction in the Permian Basin, frequented by our local population and many I-20 travelers, but over time the museum has begun to show its age,” said Autumn Vest, CAF Airpower Museum Director. “The museum staff will work closely with the local CAF members to create a stimulating exhibit space that will focus on the area our visitors are most interested, the hangar. By displaying additional aircraft, the museum will tell the story of American Military Aviation. The visitor experience will be further enhanced through hands-on displays, aircraft operations and educational exhibits.”
Beginning this fall, visitors to the CAF Airpower Museum will begin to see changes to the museum’s “Main Hangar.” Already a part of the current visitor experience, the hangar will house aircraft from the local CAF High Sky Wing and private warbird collectors.
“The museum will incorporate the aircraft throughout our exhibits,” said Vest. “The exhibits will be mobile, allowing the operating aircraft to be taken out of the hangar and flown. The flexibility of the exhibitry and aircraft, will allow the visitor an experience unlike any other museum. Where the AT-11 may be housed in a static display detailing the story of the Midland Army Airfield Tuesday through Friday, on Saturday it may be on the ramp allowing visitors to see her taxiing to takeoff for an afternoon exhibition flight. The possibilities of seeing history in action on any given day in the museum is a unique opportunity for our visitors.”
The new exhibit space will chronicle the early days of American Military Aviation, moving through the story of World War I and into a detailed story of World War II. A common theme through out the hangar will be to highlight the impact of West Texans on the war effort. Visitors will move from an exhibit dedicated to the Midland Army Airfield into an enhanced George Bush Mission Exhibit and a space focused on the Pacific theater with replicas of a Japanese Zero and Kate.. Next is an exhibit honoring the women who were “Rosie the Riveters” working in factories or WASP who trained at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. The story will continue through the Yank experience in England in the days and months surrounding D-Day, exhibited through the museum’s C-47 and various ground vehicles and equipment. The visitor will continue through the story with brief glimpses at the evolution of aviation through Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War.
“It is a challenge to encompass the broad story of American Military Aviation, but by utilizing the enormous variety of artifacts already in our collection, we can do it” said Wilson. “We have been fortunate to be the selected as the home of our constituents’ treasures. From rare artifacts to unique aircraft parts, the museum’s collection rivals museums found in larger cities. We are pleased that this plan will bring never-before displayed artifacts into the exhibit space and allow our visitors to see new pieces of history.”
“The Commemorative Air Force remains committed to supporting the CAF Airpower Museum and its presence in Midland,” said Stephan C. Brown, CAF President/CEO. “Already, the CAF has committed close to $45,000 in upgrades to the Main Hangar and $11,000 to the George H.W. and Barbara Bush Commemorative Center. These projects include items such as new light fixtures and cosmetic repairs, as well as three large air movers for the Main Hangar. The CAF Airpower Museum and this facility, will remain a cornerstone of the CAF and it is critical that it is maintained and operated at a level our members will be proud to represent.”
The first steps in the plan will be to create a suitable environment in the Main Hangar for the new exhibits. The installation of three large air movers is complete and provides positive airflow in the space. Hangar doors will be resealed to reduce dust and the security system will be improved to include new closed circuit cameras and alarms.
“The Nose Art Collection will remain in its environmentally-controlled gallery and continue as one of the most unique and vibrant exhibits of the CAF Airpower Museum,” said Vest. “We are looking forward to the next two years and encourage visitors to join us periodically following AIRSHO (Oct. 12-13) to see our progress.”
For a PDF presentation of the proposed exhibit renovation plan click on this link: