Delta Flight Museum // Opening 2014
By Fred Cannon, Executive Director, Delta Flight Museum
In 1941, we moved our headquarters from Monroe, Louisiana to Atlanta. It was the start of a long relationship between the Delta and the city that has proven beneficial to the local economy, our business and customers’ travel around the globe. Today with operations to 65 countries on six continents, it’s hard to imagine those early days in Atlanta when Delta flew to just 16 cities. Hangars one and two were next to the airfield and housed Delta’s aircraft maintenance operations – at the time, the largest in the southeast.
In the 1960s, our 2.7 million square feet Technical Operations Center moved across the airfield leaving hangars one and two available to start their new mission as the home for the Delta Air Transport Heritage Museum. They are also an official Historic Aerospace Site, a designation from The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics that acknowledges the hangars as the oldest surviving buildings currently in use at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
Thanks to a grant from The Delta Air Lines Foundation the museum is being completely overhauled and will reopen to the public next June – around the 85th anniversary of Delta’s commercial aviation – as the Delta Flight Museum.
Our company has a rich history that began with our founder C.E. Woolman and has been shaped by many airlines over the years. The Delta Flight Museum will pay tribute to these influences and celebrate the many people who built Delta into what it is today with artifacts from 40 airlines such as Chicago & Southern Air Lines, Northeast Airlines, Western Airlines, Pan Am, Song and Northwest Airlines.
A visitor’s favorite exhibit is also our largest – a Boeing 767-200 that was purchased for the airline by Delta people named The Spirit of Delta. In 1982 three Delta flight attendants initiated a $30 million fundraising effort among employees to buy the aircraft for Delta. At the time it was the newest technology available. The Spirit of Delta was retired from service in 2006. It has been in the museum ever since and will continue to be a centerpiece of the new Delta Flight Museum. It’s a constant reminder of the importance of teamwork at Delta. It stands in honor of the people, past and present who have been a part of Delta’s success.
Returning Delta’s historic hangars to their original glory helps preserve aviation history and creates a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors from around the world. (It will also be a full-service event space available for private events.)
In addition to airline memorabilia and archival collections, the museum will house a number of large exhibits including one of Delta’s first 1940s era Douglas DC-3 aircraft which was restored in the early 1990s through volunteer employee efforts and a full Convair 880 cockpit, as well as an interactive option with the addition of a Boeing 737-200 flight simulator.
As we shine and paint the hangar doors and polish the concrete floors, the Delta Flight Museum will be renovated with reverence for our airline and the evolution of the U.S. aviation industry. We hope you’ll make time next summer to visit.
Don’t forget to check the Delta Museum webpage and follow them on Facebook!