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Smithsonian Announces New General Aviation Gallery

By Megan Esau, EAA Assistant Editor

July 26, 2018 - The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum announced on Thursday it will construct a new general aviation exhibit, “We All Fly,” with legendary aerobatic pilot Sean D. Tucker’s Oracle Challenger III displayed at the gallery’s entrance.

The new gallery, scheduled to open in 2021, will be the first exhibit at the Air and Space Museum in more than four decades that will be devoted exclusively to general aviation. It’s being made possible through a $10 million gift from the Thomas W. Haas Foundation.

“Our goal is to be inspiring that next generation, who, one day, their artifacts will be hanging in the museum,” said the museum’s director Ellen Stofan.

As the entire Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum undergoes a seven-year renovation of all of its galleries, Curator of General Aviation Dorothy Cochrane said one of the themes will be national pride.

“In the gallery I talk about how United States leads the world in general aviation operations due to the open airspace that we have … and the freedom of personal mobility,” she said.

Cochrane said the gallery will specifically target the next generations in high schools and colleges to teach them about emerging general aviation opportunities and defining entry points to the flying community.

“The kids in our country are our future,” Tucker said. “They are our most precious tools. … When we have the opportunity to make that touchpoint with that human being, you set them free, and this is what aviation does for all of us.”

The We All Fly gallery will showcase the different ways general aviation impacts everyday life, from aerial firefighting to crop dusting to humanitarian relief and more.

In addition to Tucker’s Oracle Challenger III, the museum has already secured a number of other aircraft for the exhibit, including a Cessna 180, a Cosmos Phase II ultralight, a Cirrus SR22, and a Bell 47 helicopter.

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