Airline History Museum Threatened with Closure in Kansas City

The Lockheed Constellation within the Airline History Museum's hangar in Kansas City. Signature Aviation, the FBO at the airport, has locked the museum out of their home - a move which threatens the museum's survival, along with many of its significant artifacts. (image via Wikimedia)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019


Kansas City – The Airline History Museum (AHM – formerly Save-A-Connie) has been locked out of its hangar facility at Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport since last fall. Signature Aviation, the FBO (“Fixed Base Operator”) at the airport, believes it has control over the facility despite a 2005 master lease agreement with the City of Kansas City, Missouri guaranteeing the museum use of Hangar 9 through 2035. However, a district court ruled against the museum in a case filed last year. AHM believes the court ruled in error and is currently appealing. This case should come before The Missouri Court of Appeals later this spring. Signature Aviation is owned by Blackstone, Inc., an immense investment firm which owns FBO’s around the world. Vintage Aviation News has reached out to Signature Aviation and requested a comment on this issue.

The Airline Heritage Museum’s hangar, with their Lockheed Constellation on the ramp.

“We fully expect to win this appeal,” says Airline History Museum President John Roper. 

Ultimately, the City Council of Kansas City has jurisdiction over Downtown Airport and the use of all the land it comprises. AHM asked The City Council to honor their 2005 Master Lease agreement and is asking people to write to their council representative and Kansas City Mayor, Quentin Lucas, to express their concern regarding the possibility of losing this iconic, local treasure. More information is available at the group’s website, www.airlinehistory.org. 

Kansas City was once the home of Trans World Airlines (TWA) and played a vital role in aviation history. The Lockheed Constellation airliner on display within the Airline History Museum (AHM), one of the last in the world, is in full TWA colors, capturing a lost era in aviation. Many other historic aircraft are also housed at AHM, including a classic aircraft which once belonged to the actor Harrison Ford; it had been undergoing restoration in conjunction with local STEM organizations. The world’s last surviving Northrop Delta airliner is also there, as are a DC- 3, which was delivered to Kansas City and TWA in 1941, a Martin 404 passenger airliner in TWA colors and a Lockheed L-1011 Tristar, originally delivered to TWA in 1973. These iconic aircraft are normally open to tours.

The Airline History Museum’s Martin 4-0-4 airliner. (image via Wikimedia)

Unfortunately, due to the present dispute with Signature Aviation, this unique collection of classic aircraft and aviation memorabilia has been left unattended in Hangar 9 since July, 2022. Padlocks are on the doors at the direction of Signature Aviation and the caretaking of this priceless collection is no longer possible due to the lockout. 

Contact: John Roper, President, AHM. by email at jroper@airlinehistory.org or AHM Board member Pete Barrett at pbarrett@airlinehistory.org.

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