Since its founding in 1978, members of the Kentucky Aviation History Roundtable dreamed of an aviation museum. To this end, the group incorporated in 1981 as the Aviation Museum of Kentucky. In 1984, the IRS granted 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt status. In 1994, the General Assembly designated the Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame as the Commonwealth's official Aviation Hall of Fame. And in 1995 the dream came true: April 2005 marked the Museum's tenth anniversary.
In one short decade, the Aviation Museum of Kentucky has welcomed guests from all 50 states and from 61 foreign countries. We have grown to contribute immeasurably to the public understanding of and enthusiasm for aviation - an industry that in 2000 contributed $10.3 billion to Kentucky's economy and supported 129,000 Kentucky jobs.
An important part of our mission is educating young people about aviation's career potential. The industry employs pilots, mechanics, executives, secretaries, instructors, engineers, clerks, controllers, flight attendants, meteorologists, travel agents, freight handlers, med-evac professionals... the list goes on and on.
But our mission extends across the entire educational spectrum - not just to career counseling. Our changing exhibits attract approximately 10,000 students to Lexington's Blue Grass Airport each year. Visitors learn about the science of flight, and about its history. They learn how Kentucky has helped shape the field that has so shaped the world.
Academically, the study of flight supports and strengthens a wide variety classroom subjects. Aviation gives meaning and purpose to the study of math, physics, biology, geography, and more. Our "Learning through Aviation" program gives educators tools to incorporate aviation studies into the classroom curriculum. In the summer of 2005, Sheila Miller came on board as Education Director; her experience as a curriculum designer and a classroom educator helps expand the reach, depth and breadth of our educational programs.
The AMK's Aviation Summer Camp gives 10- to 15-year-olds a hands-on introduction to the sky. Every year, hundreds of youngsters study flight with our professional educators - and then they go aloft with licensed instructors. To some, it's a summer adventure. To others, this is the start of a lifelong career or a satisfying hobby. And through the Museum's scholarship program, nearly a third of all campers attend at no charge. In 2006, with support from local communities, we held camps in Bowling Green, Hazard, Lexington, Louisville, Madisonville and Pikeville. Students attend from Kentucky and beyond.
The Kentucky Aviation Hall of Fame recognizes the Commonwealth's aviation achievers. Forty-five Kentuckians have been honored to date, with more nominees introduced every year. The Hall of Fame has honored WASPs and warriors, executives and designers, instructors and astronauts, statesmen and spies. Some enshrinees have changed aviation - Matthew Sellers of Carter County gave us retractable landing gear; Solomon Van Meter of Lexington gave us the life-saving pack parachute - and some have changed the world: Noel Parrish of Versailles led the legendary Tuskegee Airmen out of segregation and into history.
Historic Aviation events have become an AMK tradition. Restored barnstormers, vintage airliners, and historic Warbirds attract thousands each year. Some visitors are World War II-era seniors showing their grandchildren the planes they flew (or maintained, or built). Some are aviation buffs who love these grand old aircraft. Others are young parents who want their children to understand the sacrifices Americans have made for freedom.
Our quarterly lectures have been a tradition since our founding. Speakers come from around the region and around the world to share their knowledge and tell their stories. AMK quarterly meetings are open to the public; they have helped build Museum membership from a handful in 1978 to over 600 today.
Inspiring the Future
The Aviation Museum of Kentucky is an asset to the state, to the industry, and to the nation. Our programs increase and improve every year. Our volunteers are enthusiastic, our board is involved, our membership is supportive, and our staff makes good use of the Museum's limited resources. Thanks to a generous bequest, we own our hangar free and clear, and the corporation is debt-free.
Our single greatest need is in facility improvement. Our museum on Blue Grass Field is a former corporate hangar; it was never designed for heavy public use. It was built before ADA codes were established, so it offers only limited access to the handicapped. Most importantly, we have outgrown our display space, our office space and our storage space.
It is not good business to retrofit a 20-year-old building into something it was never meant to be, so we are raising funds for a custom-designed, 65,000 sq. ft. facility. The new Aviation Museum of Kentucky, to be built on Blue Grass Field, will meet the needs of those thousands whose lives we enrich through the aviation.
Wednesday, Oct 20, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.
Virtual Event (Zoom)
Friday, Oct 22, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time
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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.
Virtual Event (Zoom)
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