The exhibition will celebrate general aviation by telling the story of its many aspects in the United States and how it affects the average visitor’s daily life. The gallery, part of the museum’s ongoing transformation of all its galleries at its flagship building in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to open in 2022.
“We are grateful for this generous support from Flexjet for our new general aviation gallery,” said Dorothy Cochrane, aviation curator at the museum. “The gift will enable us to continue to tell these important stories, showing young people, and all visitors, the many possibilities open to them in the aviation field.”
The We All Fly gallery will cover diverse themes, including sport, private, business, humanitarian, and utility flight.
The exhibition will strive to inspire the next generation of pilots — a critical need given the current U.S. pilot shortage. It will also show the diversity of career opportunities available in general aviation, beyond jobs in the cockpit, according to museum officials.
Some of the highlights that will be on display in the gallery are the Challenger III, a custom-built aerobatic biplane, and the Cessna 180. To engage and educate visitors, a number of interactive elements are in development, such as learning how to fly a trike (a powered hang glider) using a control bar, fighting fire as part of an aerial fire-suppression team, and discovering what is needed to explore the world by airplane.
“It is with great pride and honor that we financially support the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in its work to create this new gallery which will showcase aviation yesterday, today and tomorrow,” said Flexjet Chairman Kenneth Ricci, who also serves as a Smithsonian National Board member. “Many people do not realize that there are 5,000 airports in the United States that business aviation serves — many of which are small regional airports that generate revenue for their respective local communities. With more than 2,200 employees at Flexjet, nearly 900 of which are pilots, it is exciting to see them represented in these galleries. We are thrilled to be part of an exhibit that will shine a light on the industry’s history, innovation and opportunity and will surely inspire more talented individuals to pursue careers in aviation.”
Flexjet first entered the fractional jet ownership market in 1995 and offers fractional jet ownership and leasing. Its fleet includes the Embraer Phenom 300, Legacy 450 and Praetor 500, Bombardier Challenger 350 and the Gulfstream G450, G500, G650, and G700.