The Alaska Aviation Museum has been open to the public for 25 years. The museum was created to display the history of aviation in Alaska as well as restore vintage planes. Through it’s history the museum has grown greatly gaining more vintage planes, more detailed exhibits and giving visitors the ability to get a picture of what flying in Alaska was like in the early years of aviation. Below are some details of the museum’s history from it’s start as an Aircraft Society to present day:
1977- Alaskan Historical Aircraft Society was founded by Ted Spencer
1979- 501(c)(3) status was acquired
1984- PBY was acquired from Fred Richards
1987- PBY arrives from Dago Lake and King Salmon via an Army training mission
1988- Museum opens to the public in July
- Gullwing Stinson purchased from Planes of Fame Museum by Don Rogers and Bob Wagstaff and became the first restoration project. Aircraft was donated to the museum after restoration was complete.
- With the help of Ed Rasmuson and other individual donors the museum acquired a Stinson A Trimotor from Gene Coppack.
1989- UC-45F was purchased from a bank in Seattle
- Cessna T-50 “Bamboo Bomber” and Stinson SR-9 aircraft derelict were purchased from Dick Gallaher in Nome and transported via MarkAir Herc
- Ford Trimotor “Ptarmigan II” from Flat, AK, was the first Ford Trimotor in Alaska and the first commercial overland flight from the States to Alaska summer of 1934. Aircraft was donated by the Rich Fullerton family via John Miscovich, and sold by the museum in 2004 to Greg Herrick
1990- Travel Aire 6000 project purchased from Bill Magnuson
1992- Fairchild 24 and C-45 (Beech 18) acquired from Planes of Fame Museum in trade for C-123 which was acquired from the State of Alaska, this C-45 was later sold
1993- Stearman C2B acquired from Les Kares
1994- WACO YKC acquired from Elmer Rasmuson
1995- Noorduyn Norseman acquired from Jim Magoffin
-Hamilton H-47 Metalplane was purchased by the museum from Fred Patterson
- Bell UH1-D Iriquois “Huey” acquired from the Army National Guard through the efforts of Mike Haller
- Spartan Executive acquired through the efforts of Sue Cogswell who obtained the donation of the Spartan from the US Aviation Underwriters Insurance Co. Her father Vince Daly was a former MK pilot.
- Ryan B7 Brougham acquired from Ernie Willis
1996- Grumman Goose acquired from Dept. of Interior thanks to Senator Stevens efforts
1999- P-40 E Warhawk acquired from US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Umnak P-40E was recovered in a three part mission beginning in 1999. The initial recovery was a US Coast Guard HH60 Jayhawk and personnel mission. The helicopter was coming back from a crab patrol mission over the Bering Sea and was assigned to help the museum via the influence of Sen. Steven’s office. Accompanied by Ted Spencer and Don Robinson, the USCG personnel disassembled the engine from the airframe of the P-40E which had been shot down by the Japanese Navy during the bombing mission against Dutch Harbor June 4, 1942. The two pieces were airlifted to Umnak field. In 2000 the parts were airlifted from Umnak to Dutch Harbor by Blackhawks from the 210th Rescue Squadron of the Alaska Army National Guard. Later at Dutch the P-40E engine and airframe was airlifted to Anchorage and the air museum by a Alaska Air National Guard C-130 Hercules.
2001- Piasecki H-21 Workhorse acquired from Bart Stone via trade for a container
2002- Jim Magoffin donates his Widgeon to museum
- Museum purchases L-1 from KArl Johnstone
2005- Received Taylorcraft L-2 “Grasshopper” from Don Keil
2006- Taylorcraft donated by the Willis family in Wasilla
- Boeing 737-200, N740, Combi donated by Alaska Airlines
2007- Benson gyrocopter donated by Ken Richardson
2008- F15A Eagle that had been stricken from the inventory and used as a Cockpit fam trainer donated by the USAF
- Douglas DC-6 donated from Northern Air Cargo
- 1953 Fuel Truck Donated from Northern Air Cargo
- A/C Shelter finished except for electrical.
- Grant of $150K received from State for restoration hangar improvements.
- Al Fleener donates his partially restored Aircoupe.
-Secured $500K grant from State to complete many small projects including paving of ramp, hangar insulation, restoration hangar bifold door, catering center, and others.
- Floyd Carlson donates his Super Cub.
- OAS donates a USAF tug.
-Don Keil and Dave Karp donate chairs from 4th Ave Theater.
-Two F-15 avionics maintenance trainers received from Boeing Corporation.
-Steve Pearson hired as acting curator and exhibit producer.
-Alaska Airlines & BP donate $10K for catering room appliances.
-Received hot air balloon basket from Reed family.
-Dave Karp elected president following Gail Phillips.
-Dick Benner and Norm Lagasse move NG A/C from Kulis to Elmendorf AFB, received $150K for move.
-Lowell Thomas Jr. donates Helio Courier.
-Desert Air donates Reeve DC-3.
-Jenny Jakofer donates Mike’s ultralight which had flown over Mt. McKinley.
-Received $500K energy grant for efficient lighting, insulation, etc.
-7/8 scale Nieuport donated by Arlene Ronda from Homer.
-Steve Pearson leaves job as curator.
-Norm Lagasse resigns.
-Solar panels are installed.
-Restoration hangar insulation installed, garage door & man door installed on north side.
-Shari Hart becomes executive director.
-Bill Odom donates Chevy Silverado truck and snow plow.
-Happy Hannover’s office is removed.
-Gift store is remodeled and new epoxy floor is installed in main hangar.
-Solar panel and wind turbine installations are completed.
-Received $104K grant from State for Merrill Field Tower.
-Received a historic deHaviland Beaver from U.S. Fish and Wildlife.
-Tent hangar has concrete flooring, insulation and heating installed.
-1931 Pilgrim is now airworthy and was flown around the state.