History of the Museum
In mid-1991, the founders of the Carolinas Historic Aviation Commission, Floyd and Lois Wilson, heard that two hangars of historic significance to aviation on the grounds of Charlotte/Douglas International Airport were scheduled to be torn down. The smaller of the two was the original hangar built in 1936-37 for Charlotte’s first municipal airport, which Southern Airways then occupied.
(Photo - Image of current hangar when first acquired by the Museum - 1992 - Rollover image of hangar today)
In July 1991, the Wilsons met with three other aviation enthusiasts to discuss what could be done to save these two hangars. All agreed to meet again the next month, inviting others who were interested in preserving aviation history to join them.
In September 1991, 20 people met and agreed on the name for their group: Carolinas Historic Aviation Commission (CHAC). In October 1991, the group decided to incorporate and in January 1992, the first issue of the monthly newsletter, Contact, was published. They also determined that CHAC’s purpose would be to preserve the past, present and future aviation history of North and South Carolina, and a CHAC logo was designed.
On February 3, 1992, CHAC received its first articles of incorporation from the state of North Carolina, thus beginning a five-year process to achieve permanent 501(c)(3) non-profit status. That spring, a membership card design was selected, and it was agreed that everyone who joined through December 1992, would be a Charter Member.
In September 1992, CHAC acquired its first aircraft from the U.S. Army, a North American T-28B Trojan. CHAC now had an airplane and no place to put it until Airport Director; Jerry Orr gave CHAC storage space at the Holman Moody hangar, which was being used as a storage facility for retired city buses.
In January 1993, CHAC was given a home at the former Southern Airways hangar, today, the home of the Carolinas Aviation Museum. What greeted our members that cold January day as they came on the property was a neglected, metal relic of a hangar: rusted-open hanger doors off their tracks, broken windowpanes, knee-high weeds, and mounds of dirt dumped on the taxiway from construction projects at the airport and debris from Hurricane Hugo.
Today, that neglected building is a ghost of the past. The Carolinas Aviation Museum is a tribute to the vision, hard work and the belief of its many volunteers and national supporters that preserving the Carolinas’ aviation history is vital to this region’s cultural well-being
Photos of hangar as seen before the Museum moved in - 1992.