Cavanaugh Flight Museum To Close After 30 Years

Museum promises details to follow

Cavanaugh's F-104 Starfighter with the museum's F-86 Sabre in the background. Image via Cavanaugh Flight Museum
Aircorps Art Dec 2019


By Luc Zipkin

** Article updated on January 1st

The Cavanaugh Flight Museum of Addison, Texas, noted curators and caretakers of one of the nation’s foremost airworthy collections of historic aircraft, announced its impending closure via Facebook today, effective January 1st, 2024. The Museum, founded in 1993 by businessman Jim Cavanaugh, had recently experienced conflict with authorities at their home base of Addison Airport (ADS), though in the announcement, the Museum did not provide any additional details. Vintage Aviation News is following this story and hopes to glean greater clarity soon.

The Museum’s collection of historic airplanes from both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam, established Cavanaugh’s stature on the warbird scene with a retinue of legendary Allied fighters and bombers, as well as less common types such as the CASA 2.111, a variant of the Heinkel He 111. We anxiously await further details about the future of the museum and its historically significant collection of warbird aircraft.

On January 1st the museum updated the website with the following message, click HERE.

[Please note all comments are moderated. Those containing general political comments will not be published. Thank you for your understanding.]

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60 Comments

  1. In my opinion, I feel like the word, “authorities,” is going to equate to elected (Democratic Officials) City Folk, putting pressure on the museum for a graduated tax base, to force the museum to vacate, so Addison can expand, reap more $$$.00 by leasing or even selling the space. God Bless the folks running this museum and I Pray they find a new home. I wish NAS Dallas could take them in. Anyway, I hope it’s not moved so far away, people can not afford to load up their children to visit the best War Bird Museum in Texas.

    • This does suck. If the airport can make more money through other sources shouldn’t they be allowed to do that? Why should the government/airport be giving them a free hand out?

      • Because they should be supportive of a non profit museum that’s an asset to the community. Not everything is a mercenary exercise.

      • A private individual spent their own money to put together a incredible collection for the benefit and enjoyment of others. This benefits the citizens, brings in other revenue to the area and brings value to that place. So, the local government can make more, and the community make less, and screw providing a unique experience or attraction, they don’t profit enough (not subsidizing), want more $ in their own pockets, less benefit to the community. Hopefully another Airport in another city will see the benefit of such a museum, boost their economy and not just official’s pocketbooks.

      • Uh are you ignorant here? It is history. Government, cities, owners of land should all contribute to helping maintain this just like the common people do by donations. When you say a city it isn’t an individual it is maintained by tax dollars of the people. It is a museum setup. Please you probably step on anyone to get ahead don’t you?

      • I’m not familiar with this museum. But I’m sure it’s great. How many visitors per year,etc. Free ride? American taxpayers paid for the planes,the airport. If we forget our history,then what?

    • As you said it is your opinion and you are free to express it. Allow me to express mine but before I do let me say that I am a registered Republican.

      The real story here is the closure of an important museum that provides us with a look into aviation history and its progression.

      So my question is why do we need to politicize even a story like this. This question goes to both Republicans and Democrats.

      Do we have to have politics in every aspect of our lives. We get more than enough news from both sides of the aisle every day.

      Let’s just enjoy some of the simple things in life like why a daisy is yellow and elephants have long trunks.

      That is my opinion.

  2. We visited this museum back in the 90’s. We were in town for a Cowboys game, and spent a full day perusing the planes. Sad news.

    • Go Cowboys…someone call Jerry and advised him to buy that place! I hate seeing things like this happen to!!

    • You may get a chance yet. Watch for an Amazon item on sale by a 3rd party vendor. Shipping by Prime included.

  3. Another point in our history that is falling to the wayside. Very sad we’re ending all the good things in history. Makes one 😥.

  4. That is Too Sad. Hopefully, they can relocate.
    No idea what the Conflict is.
    Addison take into consideration the amount of Visitor’s money spent around there ?
    SHEEEEEEESH !!!

    • They are moving to the former Perrin AFB just west of Sherman, TX. It’s about an hour’s drive north. No idea where but there are several large hangers there & plenty of room to build one if necessary. At the previous location (Addison Airport) they were pretty well crammed into their space.

  5. I’m sorry to here the news of the museum closing, but hearing the primary reason, I’m not surprised . Mr. Cavanaugh assembled a fantastic collection of both static and airworthy aircraft, and most importantly, an excellent team of museum staff and volunteers!! GOD Bless you all during this transition, and knowing the team there, it will survive this episode and assemble again in a new home, with a better airport partner! Good luck Cavanaugh Team, and best wishes for brighter and smoother skies ahead!

  6. Sorry to see it go you keep losing more and more history of our great time in the United States. Cuz the younger generation doesn’t appreciate with the older generation did for their freedom

  7. It’s a shame that the younger generation are so blind to not learn or appreciate the sacrifices given so they can have the lives they enjoy, that so they’ll allow the past to repeat itself in the same horrible ways.

  8. This is a common problem throughout the country. In my opinion, the problem stems from urban professional airport managers that have no interest in aviation. To them an airport is a corporate business. I have flown many vintage and WWII aircraft and have served several different aviation museums. Airport managers were always hostile. They want airlines and business jets. And the money they produce.

    • Yeah, Kansas City’s National Airline History Museum is another great example of that. Closed off to owners by Signature aviation cause they are illegally demanding rent.

    • Bob,

      Valid points. I’m envious of your vintage warbird time! Every one I’ve ever flown was still owned by DoD. Most are now in museums, on pylons/pedestals, mothballed at D-M AFB, or scrapped. A retired USN 4-star I know quite well was CO of VA-46 during DESERT STORM and flew the A-7E in the Cavanaugh collection at ADS.

      Now I’ve been on both sides of the equation here. Private pilot’s license while a high school senior, jet training and 12 years active duty in the Navy straight out of college, then 8 years flying +/- 10 days a month in the Naval Reserve, then back on full-time active duty for another 10 years, retiring as a CAPT with 3600+ military flight hours. While in the Reserve, I was also in airport junior management at a large int’l airport (with an additional GA airport within our authority) and became a nationally Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.). I’m an Executive Emeritus member of the American Ass’n of Airport Executives (AAAE) and have periodically raised what you mention in various AAAE forums and even a trade publication.

      I originally planned on airport management as a “2nd career” once I retired from the Navy but came into the business earlier than planned due to the end of the Cold War, a shrinking Fleet, and resultant shrinking career opportunities in the Regular Navy. Tailhook ’91 aftermath made it even uglier (and I wasn’t even there). So, I resigned my Regular commission and transferred to a flying billet in the Reserve.

      8 years later, well prior to 9/11, I left the airport management world and returned to active duty, frustrated with nepotism & cronyism as the principal paths to senior career advancement in my organization; most senior executive selectees I saw would have been hard pressed to tell an aileron from an elevator! Although we were a local government agency, we also had far too many individuals in senior leadership roles who were marginally qualified and/or viewed everything through a “corporate” lens (where many of them were previously) and lacked any interest in, let alone love for, aviation. You’ve apparently run into many of them, Bob, and it was a major reason why I opted to stay within the national defense sector and not return to airport management once I hung up my uniforms and flight suits.

      Fortunately, there are some occasional exceptions to what you describe. Here in Tampa, although the aviation authority CEO is a career civilian airport exec recruited years ago from DFW, their new Board Chairman is a retired USAF 1-star with 4000+ hours in airlifters and tankers. The General and I also got said CEO of TPA (who also oversees VDF, TPF and PCM) to a 1-week “immersion” course at the USAF Air War College at Maxwell AFB and aboard a NAVSTA Norfolk homeported aircraft carrier at sea for 36 hrs. As a warbird guy, Bob, I’m sure you’re also familiar with Sun ‘n Fun at LAL and its former CEO, John “Lites” Leenhouts. I’ve known Lites from when he was a LCDR and CAG LSO thru his time as a CAPT and east coast strike fighter wing commodore. Lites had a great relationship with the former airport director at LAL, Gene Conrad. Lites retired 20 months ago and Gene now runs Sun ‘n Fun. Gene’s successor as airport director at LAL was a USAF C-130 crew chief. There are some bright spots!

      Jan S. French also makes some valid comments below (Jan, I’m guessing you were in the AC rating as a Sailor). Major commercial airports get a lot of improvements (runway & taxiway refurbs, etc.) significantly underwritten by the FAA via AIP and PFC $$$. GA airports like ADS get a much smaller block of $$$ via the FAA and state authorities. But, as Jan mentions, day-to-day O&M (to include personnel) costs have to be subsidized somewhere. Airport directors/managers always report to either an Airport/Aviation Authority Board (which often includes a city and/or county mayor) or a municipal government, both often filled with elected and/or politically appointed members who typically know next-to-nothing about aviation. Municipal governments also don’t wish to fund their airports with general tax $$$, especially non-FAR 139 GA airports, which is why you see a lot of non-aviation revenue generation located off the flightline at GA airports (office space, retail, etc.). To say airport directors/managers are also “under the gun” from external political players is an understatement.

      Now I don’t know what Cavanaugh’s lease arrangement was at ADS and what the current “hiccup” is between the museum and the ADS staff. Neither side seems to be talking publicly, likely on the advice of respective counsel. However, seeing the string of comments here, this could possibly be a chance for all concerned to mobilize, offer support, reach out to other potential stakeholders (e.g., Commemorative Air Force), and determine what other options there may be. And for Mike Rush and comments regarding the National Museum of the US Air Force (NMUSAF) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Mike, odds are that many of Cavanaugh’s ex-USAAS/USAAC/USAAF/USAF airframes (e.g., the non-airworthy ones) are still the property of NMUSAF and merely “loaned” to Cavanaugh. The same for ex-USN/USMC/USCG airframes which will be “loaned” from the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM) at NAS Pensacola.

      Very respectfully,
      Byrdman (that’s a callsign you get when your middle name actually is “Byrd”)

  9. Great aviation museum, visited there several years ago when my son was young. We both enjoyed it a bunch. Am sad to see it close and curious as to where the aircraft will go.
    A sign of the times?

    • That’s a sad thing to hear. Long time fan, but new to Dallas. Was looking forward to getting to know all those folks!

      • Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio would be a great alternative as they already have a museum and appreciate its history. If the airports and politicians don’t get up off the hind ends and get more hangars built for GA their going to be left bankrupt in trying to pursue the dollar because they can’t survive just the corporate jets at our local airports. My local airport has tried this and spent millions trying to get a charter service and I can count on one hand how many corporate jets are on our field but yet they don’t have any hangars available. Pure stupidity!! Seems like no one knows how to make money and grow the economy at the same time.

        • In my opinion Wright Patterson AFB would be a disaster: their motto is “Keep ‘Em Grounded”, versus the CAF motto “Keep ‘Em Flying”. The Air Force does superficial ‘restorations’ that are sub-par since none of their planes air airworthy.

  10. I am taken back by this. We are losing our veterans and their history 😢.
    I’m a USAF brat. My father joined the Air Force the same year it was changed from the USAAF. Hate to see this happen.
    Ironmike
    169th CES
    Fire Rescue
    SCANG

  11. Hope it doesn’t close… Hope they are able out there differences with whatever regulatory organization / person that evidently is making museum operations difficult. Never been there, but I hope the museum is still around when I finally get out to Texas..!

    • I am sadened to hear this.
      As a retired air traffic controller 25 years, and also a retired airport manager of 2 small now commercial less airports for i think 17 years i needed to speak up. Ladies and gentlemen it costs to run an airport. Insurance, utilities, workers, parts , light bulbs and snow removal equipment. Have a half million to buy a new snow blower? And so on .
      Oh yes mr/s MUGEN. Swabs. I yam also a retired sailor.

  12. Why werent we given more notice so pilots and others could rescue the museum. Please DONT LET THIS GREAT MUSEUM CLOSE!!

    • Apparently they were told that they were going to have to leave years ago and were given until the end of 2023. The airport is choosing to build high dollar executive hangars there to boost revenue etc. The museum says they are moving to the former Perrin AFB just west of Sherman,TX. There are several large hangars there and plenty of room to build if they need to.

  13. Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio would be a great alternative as they already have a museum and appreciate its history. If the airports and politicians don’t get up off the hind ends and get more hangars built for GA their going to be left bankrupt in trying to pursue the dollar because they can’t survive just the corporate jets at our local airports. My local airport has tried this and spent millions trying to get a charter service and I can count on one hand how many corporate jets are on our field but yet they don’t have any hangars available. Pure stupidity!! Seems like no one knows how to make money and grow the economy at the same time.

  14. How much more screwed up can people get?! The closure of this wonderful establishment is both despicable and a slap in the face to a part of our nation’s history! To whoever is responsible for this despicable act?! Rot in hell!

  15. ADMINISTRATOR POST: A number of comments have had to be removed for generic political views which are neither related to the actual situation or acceptable in an appropriate aviation museum discussion. We welcome thoughtful input as well as genuine expression, but generic political comment will get the whole post removed. Thank you for your understanding and behavior.

  16. The rumor around my neck of the woods, close to love field, is the Cavanaugh F.M. may be moving into Love Field. Hope it’s true as it truly is a wonderful collection.
    This is the result of idiot politicians making rules to line their pockets, not enrich our community. Sad affair to be sure.

  17. Have great memories of taking my father-in-law to the museum on several occasions. He was a pilot and his dad retired with McDonald Douglas. He was thrilled when he got to fly in the museum’s Stearman.

  18. Checking the Cavanaugh Flight Museum website, they have posted that they are moving to North Texas Regional Airport/Perrin Field which is located in Sherman/Denison, Texas, USA. This is the former Perrin Air Force Base, Texas in Grayson County, Texas.
    This location will allow the museum to operate unimpeded by airport managers who only look at the bottom line of what is the greatest generator of income.

  19. Its sad to see our history of aviation advances during times of conflict will be lost to the youngsters of today. To the commentors of the FBO operators saying they should pay their fair share, its sad that you don’t think about what those birds represent those that paid the ultimate price those “Old Birds” have already paid. SHAME ON YOU!. Often if they are supported by the FBOs they can make it into another source of income..

  20. FAR FAR AWAY FROM THE POPULATION CENTERS, WILL NEVER EVER GO AS IT IS JUST TOO FAR AWAY, ANOTHER IDIOTIC IDEA!

  21. I have been a long time attendee to the museum and am sorry to lose it.

    From what I’ve been reading, apparently had been a bond request in the 2008 timeframe which got voted down.

    More recently, the lease ended at the end of 2023 (with some extension through 2024). Apparently the airport is wanting to make those into private aircraft spaces (my assumption is for $ reasons- i.e., lack of funds to pay for newer lease).

    There seem like a few options in the immediate are which includes:
    – Frontier of Flight at Love Field
    – Fort Worth Airplane Museum
    – CS Smith Museum

    Although I’m unsure if there is available space or interest at any of these locations.

    I’m sure the Denison location may be viable option however I do worry that moves it a great distance (I believe about an hour away) and may not be as centrally located to previous or new patrons.

    I’m crossing fingers and hoping the current option works but will see.

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