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Air Force One Museum may call Wilmington home

READ MORE: Air Force One Museum may call Wilmington home
How would you like to tour Air Force One right here in Wilmington? City, state and federal government officials are now one step closer to making that a reality. The proposed museum, which would resemble the White House, may call Wilmington home. You don't have to look far for Air Force One history in our area. Howie Franklin currently works as the Brunswick County Airport Director, but spent 18 years working for five presidents as a flight attendant aboard the flying White House. “My job was to take care of all the personal needs of the presidents the first family, the staff, the senior staff the press corps," Franklin said. "It is kind of like somebody calling you up and saying there is a hundred people coming to your house and they're going to stay there for the weekend, and your job would be to take care of them and see that they have a great time.” Franklin sits on the Air Force One Museum board. For more than a year now, the board has been scouting a location. One idea is to house the museum in Wilmington. It would sit near Kerr Avenue and MLK Parkway on a plot of land owned by the Department of Transportation. Elected state and local officials met Monday to discuss details. In the end, a resolution was passed to give the museum board a letter of intent, stating that the area is behind the project. The $34 million museum would be privately funded by money raised from its board. It would feature a photo gallery, and of course, the presidential planes. For personal and professional reasons, Franklin says he'd love to see the museum take off and noted other Air Force One crew members feel the same way. "When they see the airplane take off," Franklin said, "they get a little chills.” It is still uncertain if the museum will call Wilmington home, as the museum board is still considering other locations in the state. The museum board is committed to having the museum in North Carolina, partly because of the state's designation as "First in Flight." A final decision on the exact location is expected before the end of January.

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Seems to me like this museum would just get lost in the background here, and would get visited about as often as the Cape Fear Museum of History. Sure it may get frequented by those on the museum board and those who used to be involved with Air Force One, but I don't see that being practical enough to keep it open. 'Course it doesn't really matter since it's all privately funded by the museum board, and they can spend their money how they see fit, so long as no money from the tax-payers is required at any point. But if it has to be somewhere in NC, then sure, why not Wilmington.

...but there, sir, is the rub....

Once it's here for a few years, the new wears off and the entrance fees don't cover operating expenses, the city, county and state will be throwing taxpayer money at it because it will be so "important" to tourism in the area. In that light, we need to evaluate both the appropriateness and sustainability of such a museum even if it will initially be built with private funding. First, an occasional touch-n-go by empty planes and a retired crew member in the area hardly constitute deep historical bonds to Wilmington. I have a friend who played for an Angels' farm team, but the Angels aren't making a move to open their museum in Pollaksville, where he now lives. Wouldn't Andrews AFB (or somehwere close-by) be far more appropriate? What about the Air Force Academy if there's no room at Andrews. Second, does Air Force One itself justify an entire museum? The most fascinating aspects and capabilities of the aircraft are classified for security purposes; if the museum is going to only have a photo display and an aircraft or two, wouldn't a new wing at the National Air and Space Museum suffice? We live in an area that has a rich history from pre-colonial times up to post World War II. Why can't we develope something that is truly related to Wilmington's history? Last year it was "Bring the Kitty Hawk to Wilmington" (even though you couldn't get it past the Memorial Bridge), now it's an Air Force One museum. Let me ask again...why not something truly related to Wilmington's history? Hey! Maybe we can tow the Kitty Hawk up Smith Creek to the Kerr/MLK site and hoist one of the Air Force 747's onto its flight deck. That would be no sillier than that A-12 sitting on the deck of the USS Intrepid up in New York.

There's always

the museum at the Richmond International Airport. I had the privilege to meet Retired Colnel Paul Tibbets when he spoke there a few years ago.

pretty cool

That'd be pretty cool..... Something besides the USSNC and museum... Tourisim dollars don't hurt either...


An attraction as BIG as this will definitely require AT LEAST 3 more hotels to be built downtown!