Carolinas Aviation Museum

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Carolinas Aviation Museum
File:Carolinas Aviation Museum Logo.png
Established 1992
Location Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Type Aviation museum
Visitors 70,000+
Director Wally Coppinger, Executive Director
President Shawn Dorsch, President
Curator Dean Demmery, Curator
Main Display Hangar. June 2010.
Main Display Hangar August 2012

The Carolinas Aviation Museum is an aviation museum on the grounds of Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. The mission of the Museum is to educate the public about the importance of aviation to our society and inspire the next generation to excel academically in the areas of math, science, and history through the preservation of our aviation heritage.

The Museum was founded in 1992 by Floyd and Lois Wilson, and has a collection of over 50 static aircraft and a wealth of smaller historic items related to aviation in the North and South Carolina. Most of the collection consists of Cold War military aircraft, including several historic jet aircraft from the 1950s and 1960s. Several aircraft came from the closed Florence Air & Missile Museum, Florence, South Carolina. A significant number of aircraft have also come from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and Marine Corps Air Station New River. The Museum also operates a number of flying aircraft, and with access to four runways, one over 10,000 feet (3,000 m) in length, historic aircraft including the B-17, B-24, B-29 and Berlin Airlift C-54 have flown in to visit the museum from time to time.

Until April 2010, the Museum was located in the airport's original 1932 hangar, built by the Works Progress Administration. In April 2010, the Museum moved into a new facility at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport at 4672 First Flight Drive. The new facility has enabled the majority of the aircraft to be inside a climate-controlled facility along with new displays.

In addition to the Main Museum, the Museum also operates an aviation library and a storage and restoration facility. The Museum is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 1pm to 5pm.


Aircraft engines in storage at the Bat Cave. Dec 2009.

The Museum operates three facilities, all located at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport:

  • Main Museum (4672 First Flight Drive): This facility is open to the public Monday through Saturday and contains a wide array of aircraft and artifacts. Admission $12 for adults, $9 for children.
  • Dolph Overton Aviation Library (Morris Field Drive): This research library contains over 9,000 volumes, and is staffed by eight volunteers on Tuesday and Thursdays. This is the largest dedicated historical aviation research archive in North and South Carolina. It is named in honor of Dolphin D. Overton, III, an Air Force Korean War ace from North Carolina. Charles Wagner is the Chief Librarian.
  • Bat Cave Storage & Restoration Facility (4401 Yorkmont Drive): This is a 50,000 sq ft (4,600 m2) storage and restoration facility located in the air cargo section of the Airport near the US Airways hangars. This facility is not open to the public.

Collections and aircraft

The Museum's collections include:

Flying aircraft

Piedmont DC-3 at 2007 Andrews AFB Airshow

The Museum also operates a small group of flying historic aircraft. These include a DC-3 in airline configuration in the representative markings of Piedmont Airlines', and two Grumman OV-1D Mohawks.

  • Piedmont Airlines DC-3 - N44V -This aircraft was acquired by Piedmont Airlines several years after the Airline stopped flying DC-3s and restored to an original airline configuration. Thereafter the aircraft was based in Winston-Salem, NC (KINT) and the Airline operated the airplane as a goodwill flagship taking it to numerous airshows each year. In 1998 US Air, which had acquired Piedmont Airlines, put the aircraft up for sale, and the Museum launched a fund raising campaign to acquire the aircraft. When the aircraft was acquired by the Museum it was moved to Charlotte and has been housed in the Airport's original hangar which was built by the WPA. For the last several years the aircraft has been supported by US Airways and sports the US Airways heritage logo next to the passenger door.
  • US Army Grumman OV-1D Mohawks -The Museum operates two Mohawks which were acquired in 1996 from the final operational US Army squadron of Mohawks which were based at Hunter Army Airfield in GA. These aircraft are veterans of Vietnam and Desert Storm.

Non-flying aircraft

N106US on display in the museum
N106US with tail reinstalled
Bellanca 1940 14-9L Crusair Serial # 1037 / N1KQ (State Airlines)
Kaman 1953 HOK-1 BuNo 139990 / OH-58 in restoration

The Aircraft Collection includes:

Museum's F-14D and AV-8B Harrier
  • Airbus A-320-214 CN/MSM 1044 N106US US Airways "Miracle on Hudson" Aircraft (now on exhibit)
  • Beech T-34 - On loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
  • Bell Helicopter AH-1 - On loan from National Museum of the Marine Corps.
  • Bell Helicopter UH-1 - Former NC National Guard Helicopter
  • Bellanca 1940 14-9L Crusair c/n 1037 / N1KQ (State Airlines) - Hanging in the D Concourse at the Airport (KCLT)
  • Ercoupe 1946 415-C c/n 3805 / N3180H - Could be Flyable
  • Piper Cub (In storage)
  • Long/Schweizer 1948 Midget Mustang c/n 100001 - Goodyear Air Racer - Possibly flyable
  • Boeing 1953 KC-97 Stratofreighter Serial 53-0335 - Texas Air National Guard (Cockpit Only)
  • Boeing 1941 PT-17/ N2S Kaydet BuNo 15923 / N48272 - United States Navy
  • Boeing CH-46D Sea Knight BuNo 153389 USMC - Medal of Honor Winner Vietnam War
  • Cessna 150 L 1973 Serial 15074276 N19253 - On display in main museum
  • Convair 1956 YF-102 Delta Dagger 53-1788 - USAF 2nd of 10 YF prototypes produced - SC Air Guard
  • Douglas Aircraft Company 1944 DC-3 N44V (Piedmont Airlines markings) - Flyable - Former C-47
  • Douglas Aircraft Company 1944 C-47 Dakota c/n 12907/ 43-49926 - Royal Canadian Air Force - Burma Veteran
  • Douglas Aircraft Company 1944 A-26C Invader Serial 44-35752 - Donated by Vern Reyburn as "Rude Invader" (Storage)
  • Douglas Aircraft Company 1947 D-558-1 Skystreak BuNo 37972 - This was third Skystreak of three, last flown by Scott Crossfield
  • Douglas Aircraft Company 1956 A4D-1 Skyhawk BuNo 142226 - US Marines 156th of 2960 built
  • Douglas Aircraft Company 1957 DC-7B N836D (Eastern Airlines) - Flyable
  • Douglas Aircraft Company 1979 DC-9-50 N779NC (Delta Air Lines) - Last Delta DC-9 to make a flight (from ATL to CLT 2014)
  • Grumman Gulfstream II Serial 001 / N55RG (Arrived September 2012 - In storage)
  • Grumman 1962 OV-1D Mohawk Serial 62-5890 / N1209P - United States Army - Vietnam Veteran - Flyable
  • Grumman 1962 OV-1D Mohawk Serial 62-5874 / N1171Y - United States Army - Flyable - Vietnam, Korea, Honduras
  • Grumman F-14D Super Tomcat BuNo 161166 of VF-213 - The Last F-14 Squadron to see combat
  • Kaman 1953 HOK-1 BuNo 139990
  • McDonnell Douglas 1982 AV-8B-1 Harrier BuNo 161397 - United States Marines, #3 U.S. Built Harrier / #2 Flight test aircraft - 5000+ hrs of test flight time.
  • McDonnell Douglas 1985 F-4S Phantom II BuNo 155872 - USMC VMFA-235 Barbers Point / MCAS Cherry Point
  • McDonnell Douglas 1985 F-4S Phantom II BuNo 158353 - USMC VMFA-235 Barbers Point / (Cockpit Only)
  • McDonnell Douglas 1957 F-101B Voodoo Serial 56-0243 - Flew with Nevada Air National Guard
  • North American 1950 T-28B Trojan BuNo 138258 - United States Army
  • North American 1962 T-2A Buckeye BuNo 148239 - United States Navy - Last Single Engine Airframe built
  • North American 1952 F-86L Sabre Jet Serial 52-4159 - United States Air Force - (In Storage)
  • North American F-100D "Super Saber" Serial ?? - United States Air Force (In Storage)
  • North American F-100D "Super Saber" Serial ?? - Two seater aircraft - acquired from Evergreen Aviation Museum (Storage)
  • LTV 1956 A-7E2 Corsair II BuNo 159971 of VA-72, Desert Storm, USS John F. Kennedy
  • Lockheed 1962 EC-130E Herculeas 62-1857, United States Air Force, Vietnam, Operation Eagle Claw, Grenada, Desert Shield, Desert Storm & Bosnia
  • Lockheed 1944 TV-1/P-80 (#1) Shooting Star BuNo 33866 - United States Marines
  • Lockheed 194? P-80 (#2) United States Navy - (In Storage)
  • Lockheed 194? TV-2/T-33 (#3) Shooting Star Ser ?? United States Navy - (In Storage)
  • Lockheed 194? TV-2/T-33 (#4) Shooting Star Ser ?? United States Navy - (#2 In Storage)
  • Republic P-47D-1RA 42-22331 - Wreckage from WWII Training Mission Crash - Ocean Isle, NC (In Storage)
  • Republic F-84G-30-RE Thunderjet Serial 53-3253 - United States Air Force Korean War Jet Fighter - Donated by Charlotte Aircraft Corporation
  • Savoia-Marchetti S.56 - Serial 07 - On Loan from the Reynolda House Museum of American Art
  • Sikorsky HH-3 USAF Jolly Green Giant - On Loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force
  • Sikorsky S-51 Dragon Fly - On Loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
  • Sikorsky CH-53A Sea Stallion - Loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps - came from Pax River and Quantico
  • Wright brothers 1902 Wright Glider (Reproduction) - On Display at Charlotte-Douglas Airport
  • Wright brothers 1903 Wright Flyer (Reproduction) - On display in main museum
  • Waco Aircraft Company 1941 CG-15 Waco Combat Glider - United States Army Air Forces - In Storage recovered from South Carolina

US Airways Heritage Collection

1549 Exhibit Entrance
Overhead panel in cockpit of N106US

The Museum has possibly the largest collection of artifacts and memorabilia from the various legacy airlines which have merged over the years to form the current US Airways. The largest and most visible artifact is the 'Miracle on the Hudson' Airbus A320. The Museum also has a Piedmont Airlines DC-3, with an original airline interior, which still flies to air shows. The airplane sports the US Airways heritage logo just like mainline US Airways jets next to the passenger door.

The collection includes artifacts from:

Artifacts include, but are not limited to: dishes, uniforms, manuals, airport signs, old baggage carts, an early de-icing truck, airline models, and a significant amount of documents.

Many of the volunteers at the Museum are active and former US Airways employees, including the pilots of the DC-3.

Acquisition of US Airways Flight 1549 Airbus

Case contains Capt. Sullenberger's and First Officer Skiles's uniforms
Pilot's headset from Flight 1549
Hudson River silt found in the right wing of N106US

On 15 January 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 took off from New York's LaGuardia Airport for a flight to Charlotte. Multiple bird strikes on climb out forced a ditching in the Hudson River. The ditching and subsequent rescue operations were accomplished without loss of life. The aircraft was eventually recovered from the river.

On January 3, 2011 it was reported in the New York Post that the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina has acquired the entire airframe from Chartis Insurance. The New York Times, the Associated Press, and numerous others followed up with additional articles on January 5, 2011.

The airframe was transported by road from its storage location at J Supor & Son Trucking & Rigging Co. Inc. in Kearny, New Jersey to the display facility at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte starting on June 4 and arrived on June 10, 2011. The road trip took 7 days, and covered 788 miles in NJ, DE, MD, WV, VA & NC. J Supor & Son transported the aircraft to the Museum. Because the fuselage was transported in one piece, as it was when it was recovered from the river, the truck was 190 feet long. Virtually everything except the passengers' personal effects are still in the airplane. The landing gear pins, fire axe, and the manuals were still in the cockpit, and the Coke cans were still in the food carts.

The airframe has been reassembled and is now on display, in the same configuration as it was when it was pulled out of the Hudson River in January 2009. The airframe is being conserved, as opposed to restored, with dents from the birds and tugboat.

In addition to the airframe, Captain Sullenberger and First Officer Skiles have contributed their uniforms to the Museum's 1549 exhibit.

The aircraft arrived in June 2011, and reassembly of the main components took about one year. The engines arrived in May 2012 and should be reassembled in time for the fourth anniversary of the landing in the Hudson (January 15, 2013). The Museum opened a major new exhibit about 1549, with artifacts such as Captain Sullenberger's uniform in August 2012.

The Museum, in conjunction with the North Carolina School of the Arts Film School, is producing a movie about the project to save, move, reassemble, and display the aircraft. The movie should be completed sometime in the middle of 2013.

The aircraft is an A320-214. CN/MSN is 1044.

See also