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New aviation museum planned at the Santa Maria Airport ready to take off

Planes of Fame
Planes of Fame aviation museum announces plans to expand operations with a new facility at the Santa Maria Airport. (Courtesy of Planes of Fame)

SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Plans to create a new interactive aviation museum at the Santa Maria Airport (SMX) are ready to take off.

This week, Planes of Fame (POF), a nonprofit organization that is designed preserve aviation history, inspire interest in aviation, educate the public, and honor aviation veterans, announced to the public its fundraising campaign that will develop a state-of-the art immersive museum campus at SMX.

“We are thrilled to have the Planes of Fame expanding to the Santa Maria Airport," Santa Maria Airport Interim General Manager Kerry Fenton said in a release. “We partnered with Planes of Fame last year to bring back the Central Coast AirFest and look forward to continuing to work with them on future air shows and educational programs."

Planes of Fame currently is based in Southern California at its headquarters in Chino, where is houses a museum that is home to nearly 100 aircraft.

The planned Santa Maria expansion will also include a museum and several other components. According to Planes of Fame, the new facility will offer STEM educational opportunities, tourist appeal, and revenue generation for the region. 

Planes of Fames added the new campus will serve as an expansion to its Chino headquarters and support POF flight operations as a base for its maintenance program. 

“The Santa Maria Airport is an ideal location for an auxiliary base to support our flight operations. It is only about an hour's flight from Chino Airport allowing us to easily rotate aircraft between the two locations,” Planes of Fame Museum President Steve Hinton said in a release. “We believe flying our historic aircraft is a great way to honor our veterans and inspire young people’s interest in aerospace and the importance it has played in world history."

The $12 million fundraising campaign to build the new expansion currently has raised over $7.5 million, representing more than 60% of the goal.

POF said a generous benefactor has lent financial support to capital campaign by agreeing to match new campaign donations dollar for dollar up to $1 million.

"My father, as founder of Planes of Fame, would be so proud to see the SMX Campus," Karen Maloney Hinton, POF board member and chair of the SMX Campus Capital Campaign said in a release. "We have so many people to thank; from our staff to volunteers, to our donors who have kindly invested in our common vision of creating a place to educate the public about our nation's aviation heritage."

The new museum will be located on what is currently 23-acres of vacant land adjacent to the south of the Radisson Hotel.

"Prime piece of property right off of Skyway Drive, right next to the Radisson Hotel and they'll have areas on the ramp for people to go out and they'll be able to see not only the Planes of Fame, but also the Air Tanker Base or any other operations that we have out there," said Fenton. "It will good for the public to get out and see everything that we have to offer."

POF said groundbreaking is planned for sometime in 2023 anda goal of opening to the public in 2025.

For more information on the planned Planes of Fame Santa Maria expansion, click here.

Article Topic Follows: Local News
aviation museum
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Planes of Fame
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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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