Chairman’s Blog

While it has been a few weeks since I have contacted you, it has not been a quiet time in our efforts to save the Virginia Aviation Museum and its irreplaceable collection. We have wrapped up phase one of our efforts and are in phase two and need your help now more than ever!
The first phase was generating support in the General Assembly for saving the collection from the Science Museum of Virginia’s systematic and deliberate actions to disperse the collection. That we have done by generating a letter to Education Secretary Dietra Trent signed by nearly 40 members of the General Assembly, from all regions, both parties and both chambers, from leadership to rank-and-file, that asks her to freeze the Science Museum’s actions for six months until all interested parties can work out a plan to reopen the VAM independent of the Science Museum.
A heartfelt thanks to all of you who wrote your legislators asking them to sign the letter. In fact, more signatures are coming in and we are forwarding them to Sec. Trent as they do.
Now, we need you to write to Sec. Trent and ask her to act on the letter and grant the delay in the Science Museum’s activities as we and the General Assembly members are asking. It is imperative that you act as soon as possible. The letter doesn’t have to be long. A short, polite note referencing the General Assembly members’ request is sufficient. You may cite the importance of the VAM as a tourist, cultural and educational institution, both as a history and a future STEM/STEAM center that ties Virginia’s aviation past to the current, thriving aerospace industry and the jobs of tomorrow for Virginia students.
We are also meeting with potential partners who have expressed optimism that joining with us in a new VAM will bring success. It would be a shame for these efforts to get short circuited because the state did not act to save its own history. Let’s get it to act! Please write Sec. Trent immediately. Then, please forward this blog post to your group lists, colleagues, fellow aviation/history enthusiasts and friends, and use this link to post on your social media platforms.
Click here or copy and paste into your browser to write Sec. Trent:

You can also use the U.S. Mail and write her at this address:

Honorable Dietra Trent
Secretary of Education
Commonwealth of Virginia
P.O. Box 1475
Richmond, VA 23218
Use this link, which leads to this letter on our web site, to post on social media:
Thank you for your encouragement and commitment. Together, we will save the VAM.
Tim McSwain
VAHS Chair

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The entire Shannon collection represents about 12 of the VAM’s 32 airplanes. The Shannon plan does not really conflict with our objectives. We had always intended to “thin” the collection somewhat in order to more closely focus on those aircraft that are of particular importance in Virginia’s aerospace history. Furthermore, there are literally thousands of other artifacts in the collection that will help tell that story. (Among the collection are books, photographs, models, engines, propellers, simulators, ejection seat trainer, flight suits, military exhibits — including that of Vietnam War hero Paul Galanti’s war and POW experience — and more, including the authentic replica’s of the Wright Flyer, glider and kite made by Virginian Rick Young using the exact same materials and assembly techniques.)

As we have stated, one of the very disappointing aspects of the Science Museum’s management of the VAM over the years is that it did not rotate or refresh exhibits and allowed the VAM to become just a “box of airplanes”. A museum at Shannon would not be big enough to display all of the Shannon collection and would allow a new VAM to display a share of the Shannon collection and perhaps rotate displays with Shannon.

One concern we have is that a new facility to house and store the Shannon collection will not be ready for some time. What purpose is served by moving the Shannon airplanes to storage when the current location is secure? This is especially relevant now that the Science Museum has announced that it will spend funds donated to support the VAM to instead dismantle the VAM. If the Science Museum had spent this money over the years on improving the VAM instead of dismantling it we wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with.

However, this announcement proves the necessity and the urgency for lawmakers to sign our letter to Sec. Trent and for her subsequent action to prevent the dispersal of Virginia’s aviation history to far flung corners and the need for a central depository to tell the complete story of Virginia’s significant role in America’s aviation and aerospace leadership.

Tim McSwain

(804) 222-8690
Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society
5701 Huntsman Road
Richmond Int’l. A/P, Virginia 23250

 * * * * *

Action Alert: Making Progress But Need Your Help To Save the Va. Aviation Museum!

Dear VAHS members, friends and supporters:

The Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society continues to make progress in saving the Virginia Aviation Museum. We have met with several more state lawmakers since our last action alert to you and many of them have committed their support to a six month delay in any efforts by the Science Museum of Virginia to disperse of the priceless collection of Virginia’s aviation history. Many also share our vision as to how the VAM can play a role in STEM/STEAM education.

Our plan is to circulate a letter in the near future to the 20-plus members of the Richmond-area delegation to the General Assembly, and another one to all other members, asking Secretary of Education Dietra Trent to instruct the Science Museum to halt all action pertaining to the distribution of the collection for six months. During that time, a study will be completed detailing how to re-open the Aviation Museum apart from the Science Museum.

We are very encouraged by the support so many of you have provided thus far, as well as the offers of support from a large number of new friends, many of whom we met at the Virginia Aviation Conference at the Homestead earlier this month. For those who have already contacted your state senators and delegates and signed our online petition, we gratefully thank you. Please take the extra step by forwarding this e-mail to your lists and posting it on Facebook and other social media in order to make a similar appeal for action and to raise awareness of this issue. To conveniently do any or all of the above, please see the links posted below.

For those who are receiving our updates for the first time, or have not yet contacted your legislators, thank you for your interest. Please contact them immediately and ask them to sign the forthcoming letter for a six month delay in the dispersal of the Virginia Aviation Museum’s collection to out of state museums. Please also sign our online petition. The effort requires only a few minutes time, but can save decades of history.

This is hard work and it takes all of us, but it is very achievable. Please take a few minutes to write your lawmakers, sign our petition and raise awareness of this situation with as many aviation enthusiasts, people who work in the industry, educators and history lovers as you can.

Click here (or copy it into your browser) and type in your address to find your delegate and senator and their e-mail addresses. Include your address in your correspondence so they will know you are a constituent.

Click here (or copy into your browser) to sign and comment on our petition:

Copy this link to post this e-mail alert in web form to your Facebook page or other social media platforms:

Chairman’s Blog



Tim McSwain, Chair
Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society
5701 Huntsman Road
Richmond, Va. 23250

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