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.
Collections and aircraft
- 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.
- The Museum's collections include:
- Major Dolph D. Overton III USAF Photographic Collection
- Piedmont Airlines Historical Society
- Preddy Memorial Foundation (World War II Preddy Brothers artifacts)
- US Airways Heritage Collection
US Airways Heritage Collection
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 A-320. 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:
- Allegheny Airlines
- America West
- Mohawk Airlines
- Piedmont Airlines
- Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA)
- Other legacy carriers
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.