It's Time to "Raise the Hangar!"

Pictured Above:  Delta Captain Karen Ruth & Northwest Airlines Captain Woody Fountain.  Click on the photo to visit the event photo gallery.  All photos courtesy of Larry Grace Photography.

Visitors both young and young at heart came to an Open House on November 8 to view the new education destination at the Downtown St. Paul Airport (Historic Holman Field). AirSpace Minnesota hosted the event with the MN Association of Women in Aviation to invite the community to join together in building this unique new asset for the region.

“This will be a gathering place for our community, and we need everyone’s help now to help renovate and build out this educational center,” said AirSpace Minnesota Co-Chair Neil Brackin, Vice President and General Manager, Premier Jet Center. “Working together, we can supply the materials, labor and financial resources necessary to start serving students. We hope everyone will join the fun of being part of this exciting initiative.”

The new destination will inspire learners of all ages through one-of-a-kind hands-on experiences using STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) while celebrating the region’s innovation legacy. Plans for the site include the Learning Jet from the MN Association of Women in Aviation and the Aviation Learning Center from the renowned Museum of Flight in Seattle.

AirSpace Minnesota has been selected to be first in the nation to replicate the innovative Aviation Learning Center, which has inspired thousands of students since its development 10 years ago. The center includes three modules: a Learning Lab, a Hangar with Flight Desk and an actual Cirrus aircraft, and a Simulator Bay where students virtually fly the actual flight plan they file. Dale Klapmeier, CEO & Co-Founder of Cirrus Aircraft, and Airspace Minnesota Co-Chair has donated an SR22 airplane for the Minnesota installation. View the ALC video here: Aviation Learning Center.

At the Open House, Delta Captain Anne Simpson, Vice Chair of the Museum of Flight board of trustees, was welcomed by Delta Vice President Andy Zarras and Metropolitan Airports Commission CEO Jeff Hamiel, who serves on the AirSpace Minnesota board of directors.  Secretary of State Mark Ritchie provided an opening message and Senator Scott Dibble participated.

UTC Aerospace Vice President Mark Skarohlid, AirSpace Minnesota Vice Chair, acknowledged the great support of companies including 3M, Garmin, Signature Flight Support/BBA Aviation, Thomson Reuters and U.S. Bank. He introduced Joe Maddy, Chief Operating Officer of RJM Construction and Bess McCollough of Collaborative Design Group, who will lead the renovation/build team and invite others from the building trades community to participate.

Special guests included Astronaut Hall of Fame member Curt Brown, a 6-time shuttle astronaut, Woody Fountain, first African American pilot for Northwest Airlines, and Don Piccard, pioneering aeronaut member of the extraordinary Piccard family and recent National Ballooning Hall of Fame inductee. Bill Jansen gave the crowd a special treat by arriving in his L39.

Visitors enjoyed a preview of what’s to come with displays by the Minnesota Air National Guard Museum, Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame, NWA History Centre and Minnesota Submarine League. The Fort Snelling Lion’s Club kept everyone well-fed and hydrated throughout the event.