'To inspire the future...' Progress Event for the new Flight Test Museum at Edwards AFB
June 10, 2023
Inside Edwards Air Force Base, near Rosamond, is a distinctive little Flight Test Museum, preserving the unique history of aviation testing in the Antelope Valley (also known as the Aerospace Valley). The trouble is, because the museum is inside the military base, the public has no access to it.
The Flight Test Museum Foundation (also known as the Flight Test Historical Foundation, established in 1983 by General Pete Knight Retired, Carol Odgers, and General Chuck Yeager Retired), chaired currently by Art Thompson, seeks to change that with a new, much larger museum located just outside the restricted area's west gate, by the base's Visitor Center. A recent "Celebration of the New Museum's Progress Event and Press Conference" – spearheaded by committee chair Rex Moen – was held at the new site to give visitors a chance to see what's been accomplished so far and to ask questions about future plans.
So far, the foundation and bones of the new museum are in place, and they make a striking impression with some 350,000 pounds of steel housing 75,000 square feet of concrete. When finished, the building will include a large welcoming area plus a vast hanger space for planes and other displays, all with a spectacular view of the valley and surrounding mountains.
The mission of the new museum is to "preserve, display and educate the public about the more than 75 years of flight tests, aerospace and technological developments in the Aerospace Valley," according to Foundation literature.
"This museum will bring us together to honor the giants that have gone before us – the pilots, engineers and support teams," said Jim Brown, test pilot and President of the National Test Pilot School. "And to show how the great aeronautical achievements that have enabled the U.S. to maintain dominance of the skies were accomplished right here at Edwards Air Force Base."
And as noted in the mission statement, the plans are for the project to encompass much more than just being a museum, a recurring theme at the Progress Event. "This will become an educational center, a communication center, not just a museum," Thompson said in his opening remarks at the event. "This is all about inspiring the future and supporting the community. We're here for everyone."
About the economic impact, Drew Mercy, Executive Director of the Antelope Valley Economic Development and Growth Enterprise, said, "The Flight Test Museum will attract thousands of visitors to our three-county area, adding millions of dollars to our economy."
George Roush, curator of the museum, added, "This will be the most unique flight test museum in the world – there's nothing like it. It'll be inspiring – we have to inspire the kids."
As far as the new museum has progressed to date, it still has a long way to go. With a projected time span of three years to completion, Thompson noted that the Foundation still must raise about a million dollars to "skin" the building. "We're trying to get the word out," he said.
Businesses are encouraged to become partners in the efforts, and of course individuals are also welcome contributors, called Friends of the Flight Test Museum. For more information you can visit the Flight Test Historical Foundation online at flighttestmuseum.org or write to FTHF at PO Box 57, Edwards, CA 93523.