By Di Freeze
When Greg Anderson is old, gray, and spending a lot of time in his rocking chair, he’ll look back on the things in life that satisfied him most. One of those things will be his affiliation with the Experimental Aircraft Association and its Young Eagles program. Another will be his involvement in Colorado’s Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.
Anderson grew up near Milwaukee, Wis. in Waukesha. His passion for aviation began as a child, with frequent visits to the Waukesha Airport.
“We used to go out on family drives on Sunday afternoons,” he said. “A lot of times, we would end up at the airport. I remember ‘penny a pound’ rides and watching the airplanes land and takeoff. It was a great introduction to flight.”
His infatuation with airplanes grew. When he was in the tenth grade, a small school nestled in the foothills of Colorado’s majestic Front Range captured his attention.
“I was traveling with my family out to Colorado, then to California, for a spring break vacation,” he said. “I saw Colorado and fell in love with it. I saw the Air Force Academy and decided I wanted to go there. I came out two years later.”
Anderson said he thought of the academy as “more than just a flying opportunity.”
“Vietnam was going on, and I felt a sense of service obligation to my country,” he recalled. “I went there with the intention to come out as a pilot and do what I could.”
Anderson arrived at the academy in 1968, and graduated with the class of ’72, under the tutelage of the legendary triple ace, Brig. Robin Olds, who was then commandant of cadets. He qualified for graduate school, which took him to Boston, to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Through an accelerated program, he graduated in about eight months with a master’s degree in international affairs. After graduation, he was ordered to report to Moody Air Force Base, Valdosta, Ga., where he finally entered pilot training.
“I graduated from pilot training at a time when the needs of the Air Force were competing with the traditional system of aircraft selection by UPT (undergraduate pilot training) class rank,” he said. “They changed the system to allow the top 10 percent of each class to choose their aircraft. I wanted an F-4, but I was just outside the top 10 percent, so I drew a KC-135, which, as it turned out, I really enjoyed flying.”
Anderson was stationed at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, New York. His assignment allowed him to circumnavigate the world several different times. One temporary duty assignment placed him in Southeast Asia near the closing days of the conflict. Later, he was sent to Thailand, and was involved in the Mayaguez incident, the last battle of the Vietnam War.
Starting a family
After seven years with Strategic Air Command, Anderson married his high school sweetheart, Beth Davies. The couple decided to start a family in Wisconsin, which meant leaving the Air Force.
“It was a very difficult decision,” Anderson said. “I still look back on it with some chagrin because I had a lot of friends who stayed in and are now enjoying retirement benefits.”
The two settled in the town of Wausau, in north central Wisconsin, in 1979. There, Anderson landed a position as executive of the local chamber of commerce. During his two-and-a-half-year stint there, he became close friends with Wisconsin Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus.
“He was a very popular governor, who broke a lot of the traditions of politics,” Anderson explained. “He always wore a red vest, and he had great support from the citizens of Wisconsin.”
Eventually, Dreyfus extended an invitation for Anderson to join his staff as office administrator and liaison to local governments.
“I learned a lot from Lee, and it was a chance to get into the political science academic background that I had,” he said.
That led to a move to Madison, Wis.
“I worked there for only a year, because Lee decided, for personal reasons, not to seek a second term of office,” Anderson said. “It turned out to be a blessing for me because I got back around airplanes with EAA.”
At the time, the Experimental Aircraft Association made its home in Hales Corners, Wis., but was anticipating a move to Oshkosh.
“They’ve held the fly-in there since 1970,” Anderson said.
He recalled feeling he had a chance to join “a great organization in a growth mode.”
Young Eagles spread their wings
Paul Poberezny, who founded EAA in 1953, was serving as chairperson and president when Anderson initially met him. But it was his son, Tom, who later assumed the presidency, who hired him as the organization’s director of development.
“I met both of them in my interview process and recognized a great leadership for our organization that was all spread around the world,” he said. “In 1983, we were in Hales Corners working in low metal buildings, off the beaten path.”
Anderson’s initial job was to raise money to build EAA’s first museum.
“It wasn’t a good time economically,” he said. “The late seventies weren’t a good time for aviation, but we charged ahead and created what is now an awesome facility that’s continued to grow through many expansions.”
Building the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh gave Anderson the opportunity to work with people like John Denver, Barry Goldwater, Barron Hilton and IBM’s Tom Watson. That was just the beginning of even greater things to come. Once Anderson and his team completed the museum project, he launched another huge fundraising campaign to retire portions of the organization’s debt, as well as expand existing programs and facilities.
Over the next two decades, he held several titles, including vice president of development, a role he filled before becoming executive vice president, a position he held for more than 12 years. He spent more than 20 years with EAA, helping build the world-class facilities that are in Oshkosh today. However, of all his accomplishments there, he’s most proud of launching the Young Eagles program.
“It’s the greatest youth outreach mission anywhere,” he said.
Founded in July 1992, with a goal of flying one million young people by December 2003, the 100th anniversary of powered flight, the program was created to encourage aviation interest among young people.
“We realized it was the greatest of all possible contexts for motivating young people to reach out for their new horizons, in whatever walk of life they were interested in,” Anderson said. “We knew that more than a few would follow into aviation and space, but more importantly, it started with sparking their imagination and interest, and worked into setting goals, doing well in school and getting a new perspective.”
He said that what is so gratifying about the program is that once you put a young person in an airplane, particularly if that person can actually hold the controls, it changes his or her perspective.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to let kids realize that they don’t have to be limited by what they know of the world in their particular inner city area or small town setting,” Anderson said. “There’s a whole world out there, and they can chart a course to reach destinations in the world through their personal effort. Aviation can take them there.”
Academy Award winning actor Cliff Robertson served as the first chairman.
“Cliff always added a special something to our programs,” he said. “He was a familiar face and name, and had that wonderful voice and great credibility. We felt that with getting parents to sign permission for their child to fly with, in some cases, a stranger in a small airplane, it was important for someone like that to stand by the program.”
According to Anderson, EAA knew they had a “tiger by the tail” shortly after the program got off the ground. In order to keep the momentum going, it was important to provide follow-on opportunities for Young Eagles.
“These included things such as resident programs, where kids can come and live and learn with other kids about careers, technologies, flight training programs, Web-based education and charter schools,” he said. “All those kinds of things were created in this wonderful laboratory that EAA had established, with some support from the Lilly Endowment.”
With Lilly’s support, estimated at more than $1 million, Anderson and EAA were able to organize a national steering committee to help create a variety of opportunities for both formal and informal education, in both a typical classroom school and an exciting new museum setting.
Once off the ground, the Young Eagles program began to grow. In 1994, Brig. Gen Chuck Yeager became the program’s chairman.
“He inspired the troops and got everybody excited about the program,” said Anderson. “He multiplied the levels of participation of our members and partner organizations around the country. He had so much fun with the program that he decided to stay in it, all the way into 2003.”
That year, the program’s initial goal was met more than a month before deadline when pilot Rick Ellis, of Freeport, Ill., flew 15-year-old Andrew Grant from nearby German Valley to become the one-millionth Young Eagle entered into EAA’s official register. Anderson knew that Yeager planned on seeing the program through to the end of that year.
“After that, we would need another special person to take an honorary chairmanship role of leadership for the program,” he said.
Anderson thought charismatic actor and pilot Harrison Ford would be the perfect successor. Ford earned his private pilot certificate in 1996, and since then has added a number of additional ratings to his aviation resume, including a tail-dragger endorsement and ratings to fly single-engine seaplanes, helicopters and on instruments.
In September 2003, he had the opportunity to speak to Ford about it. That month, flying his 150-hp PA-12 Super Cruiser, Anderson participated in the Fourth Annual Backcountry Aerial Safari.
“A group of guys left out of Driggs, Idaho, to go up into the Bitter Root Range of the Idaho Rocky Mountains,” he said. “About 10 or 12 aircraft made the trip.”
Ford, one of the invited pilots, flew his beloved de Havilland Beaver.
“All of us hit it off, just on the common ground of enthusiasm for flying and beautiful country,” Anderson recalled. “It was drop-dead gorgeous, flying in and around the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area, and up and down canyons of the Salmon, Snake and Selway rivers.”
As Anderson prepared to depart, he talked to Ford about the program, and told him he thought he would be the perfect successor.
“We talked a couple of times after that,” Anderson said. “I went out to see him in California, and once I told him what was involved, he accepted.”
EAA made the official announcement about Ford’s new position in March 2004. Anderson said Ford’s primary responsibility is simply to make the program credible.
“It’s to allow his image and words to be conveyed through the EAA publications and Young Eagles program materials,” he said. “It’s to be at Oshkosh every summer to recognize the major volunteers, the kids that have been part of the program, and after that, to do a few things that are important, convenient and enjoyable to him and to the program.”
Ford owns several aircraft including a Bell 407 helicopter, an Aviate Husky, a Beech A-36 Bonanza, a Cessna Grand Caravan and a new Pilatus. A member of EAA since 1996, he’s flown nearly 200 Young Eagles in his Beaver and helicopter since he first participated in the program in 2001.
Wings Over The Rockies
Anderson said he was very happy at EAA, and would’ve been perfectly content to stay with the organization for another decade, if it hadn’t been for two Coloradoans. Cable pioneer Carl Williams and publisher Pat Wiesner approached him about filling the newly created post of president and CEO of the Aviation & Space Center of the Rockies, the entity that governs the Wings Over The Rockies Air & Space Museum. That person would have the huge job of overseeing expansion of the museum to Centennial Airport.
Williams, former chair of ASCOR, had known Anderson through participation with EAA’s President’s Council during the years that Anderson and EAA were focused on fundraising for Young Eagles and the Centennial of Flight. Wiesner, ASCOR’s present chairman of the board, felt the organization needed a top executive who had the level of experience needed to “make things happen,” as well as a genuine passion for aviation. It didn’t take long for Anderson’s name to come up.
“We all knew Greg,” Wiesner said. “Everybody that goes to Oshkosh knows him. Carl had talked to him over a period of time about the idea.”
Williams and Wiesner approached Anderson again in December 2003. This time, he accepted.
“They got my attention in the first place because they’re great people, passionate about aviation in Colorado,” he said. “It was an exciting idea, and I decided to roll up my sleeves and see what we could do out here. And, frankly, ever since the Air Force Academy, I never really got Colorado out of my system.”
For years, the museum has been an integral part of Colorado aviation. From its humble beginnings as an abandoned Air Force hangar, it has emerged to become one of the must-see museums for U.S. aviation history. Since 1994, Wings Over the Rockies has touched the hearts of young and old.
“The museum was founded when Lowry Field closed,” noted Anderson. “Carl Williams and some farsighted people saw the value of what the Air Force had done here. The facility served 1.1 million men and women since just before WWII. Every week, people come in and say, ‘I served here in 1942 or ’54 or ’66; thank you for saving this place. It’s been a great part of my life.'”
Anderson admits the 67-year-old main building sometimes shows it age.
“It likes to remind us of its age once in awhile, with things like old restrooms, landscape issues and insulation challenges, but, nonetheless, it’s an extraordinary setting, and a great facility for heritage and restoration activities,” he chuckled. “It’s very appropriate for certain things, such as educational programs, or if you want to have a big dance or event surrounded by airplanes. There are a lot of things you can do there that make sense.”
He said Lowry’s best days are ahead of it once some of its critical needs are addressed.
“While Centennial can be a place for flight activities and the present and future of flight, Lowry has great purpose for aerospace heritage,” he said.
At Lowry, the museum houses a collection of military aircraft, Cold War aircraft and all but one of the Century Series fighters.
“We also have a rare B-1A, and we go all the way back to a B-18 Bolo, an early pre-WWII bomber,” he said. “Then we have a space collection, a library, and an unsung number of specialized collections from models and avionics to uniforms and displays from the Air National Guard and the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame. We even have the Star Wars X-Wing fighter from Lucasfilm. We really cover a broad spectrum of aerospace heritage.”
He said the museum is presently in a “special place,” surrounded by an extraordinary community with great volunteers. He emphasizes that the museum’s future holds expansion, not relocation, and said it’s unlikely that major exhibits from Lowry will be moved over to Centennial Airport.
“We’re going to build on the strengths of each location,” he said. “Lowry’s strength is its history and its heritage; we’ll keep the setting of pre-WWII hangars and show what kind of things can be preserved by restoration.”
Lowry, as it is today, is a rare community, due to its successful conversion from an active duty military training base to its new incarnation as an upscale residential neighborhood.
“It’s probably one of the most successful conversions in the country,” Anderson said. “People are taking notice of how Lowry did it and other communities concerned with forthcoming base closures are sending people to Lowry (to learn).”
Several upgrades to facilities at Lowry are planned, which will be paid for by revenue generated not only from donations, but also from the sale of museum property. The Lowry campus is divided into three parcels. One parcel is already on the market and Anderson expects it to be consummated for sale by mid-2005.
“Proceeds from that sale will help us do a lot of things that we want to do with some serious infrastructure issues,” Anderson said. “We want to keep the look and feel of Lowry. We have some work to do on the landscaping, obviously, which that sale will help us accomplish.”
The proposed property for the additional facility is owned by DTC Meridian, and is situated in Douglas County, on the southwest side of APA, off Liberty Blvd., directly west of the Liberty Media/Starz complex.
“We’re looking at 23 acres, broken into parcels of about 16 acres, west of this fence line, and another seven acres that run down into the lower landscape, just beneath the approach to 35 left,” explained Anderson, while touring the site.
He promised the completed project would be the best of “many worlds.”
“You have aircraft flying overhead, two runways—17/35 left and right—and a proposed taxiway and ramp area on the property to accommodate visitors and our special flying activities,” he said. “The property overlooks I-25 and C-470. Then there’s the panoramic beauty of about 100 miles of mountains, from Long’s Peak near Boulder all the way down to Pike’s Peak near Colorado Springs.”
The main museum building will be curvilinear in design.
“There will be an area contiguous to the main galleries for our aircraft operations, and another for the restaurant and theater,” he said. “The ramp area behind it will also be available for weekend activities and special flying programs.”
Parking and green space areas will be compatible with the natural landscape.
“Also, down in the lower area will be a park-like area for people who just want to watch the airplanes takeoff and land,” he said.
Anderson said Centennial Airport officials approached ASCOR about the expansion.
“As we considered different alternatives, nothing came close to Centennial for its activity levels, its community, its airport management, its people on the airport,” he said. “They have embraced this whole idea with a lot of enthusiasm.”
He said he’s seen a lot of airports in his career, and he can’t think of one more vital, future-oriented or more fitting for a world-class air and space museum than Centennial Airport.
“Robert Olislagers is a very farsighted manager with a very capable staff that has been very encouraging and receptive to all of our plans,” Anderson said. “From the standpoint of a newcomer, I would like to say to all the people on the airport and around the airport that they should feel very fortunate to have the team here that’s leading this airport.”
In addition to starting a concept planning group made up of the Wings board and tenants from the airport, Anderson says they’ve also acquired the ear of many other project supporters.
“We also convened a group of people from the greater Denver area—particularly southeast Denver—into a charette, which is a strategic brainstorming workshop for people from various disciplines and backgrounds,” Anderson said.
The group includes Olislagers as well as airport tenants and pilots, a space consultant, a councilperson from the City of Centennial, teachers and members of the Southeast Business Partnership.
“We have a mix of about 25 different people who came in and spent a weekend with us thinking through the process of what kind of facility would be ideal in this location,” he said. “We also did a survey of about 5,000 aerospace enthusiasts in the last few months, and those responses will also factor in to our planning.”
Anderson said that presently they are working with concepts, planned by a team of architects and exhibit designers who were a part of the study process.
“We interviewed and went with the firm of Klipp Architects,” he said.
He pointed out that Brian Klipp, the firm’s principal, designed the Wildlife Experience, a beautiful modern wildlife conservation museum facility near the airport. He said the firm has an established working relationship with DTC Meridian and Douglas County. They’ve also joint-ventured with Durrant Architects, the firm that built the EAA AirVenture Museum.
“At the outset, our concept planning group determined that we didn’t want to be another average air and space museum,” Anderson said. “We decided we would look to make ourselves worthy of the designation as Colorado’s official air and space museum. If we’re going to build at this awesome location, we want to build a world-class facility, create a major attraction and find ourselves in the company of the finest economic and cultural assets in the state, if not the region.”
Anderson feels that most people in the aviation world appreciate what Colorado has done.
“We want to be one of those museums that come to mind when you think of the top 10 museums in the country, because Colorado’s distinguished place in aerospace deserves it,” he said. “We also will be a facility that attracts people of all ages.”
One artist’s rendering of the facility showcases the unique blend of glass, concrete and modern building structure elements that ASCOR believes are appropriate for a 21st century museum. If you’re arriving in your airplane, you’ll appreciate a classic hangar façade, parking and walking toward the museum from the airport side.
Anderson said that when establishing a facility of this kind, it’s very important not to build the building and then try to figure out what to put in it.
“We wanted to design it from the inside out, based upon a certain type of visitor experience,” he said. “If you create the visitor experience first, based upon community feedback, you should have a facility that will represent your goals well and attract people back again.”
Anderson said feedback came in strong for inspiring the imagination, interactive exhibits, flying activities and space. These elements are conveyed graphically in a rendering of the entrance atrium, for which a working title is “The Frontiers of the Imagination.”
“This concept has visitors coming upstairs from that entranceway, walking into a large 6,000-square-foot area, with as much as 60 feet of vertical height,” he explained. “A balloon may be ascending and descending, surrounded with the possibilities of individual imagination taking flight, from kids pushing a homemade airplane off their rooftop to a man in space, flying around with a jet pack. The rendering depicts fanciful Buck Rogers kinds of things. There will be movement, color and excitement in this space.”
And there will definitely be a “flying car” represented.
“The flying car inspired everyone’s imagination,” he said. “Molt Taylor brought it to pass. One of his airplanes is here in Colorado. We want to recognize those fantastical pieces of this story and others, and yet accomplish the traditional functions of an entrance space.”
Another rendering depicts what a visitor might see walking into the museum’s proposed Living Hangar, which will be located in the rear of the main aviation gallery.
“It’s a unique feature planned for the museum,” Anderson said. “Immersion into a working airport will be possible as you step into the Living Hangar. You’ll be able to walk around three sides of that hangar. This is about a 16,000-square-foot space, currently calling for a glass wall, to see the environment and the activity outside the museum.
“Then, there are opportunities via catwalks to go out and talk to a mechanic who might be working on a T-6 or the next fellow who might be doing something with a biplane or business jet. We want them to be able to understand the story of the operator or the airplane and their history, such as why that particular T-6 was important, perhaps because it’s the only T-6 that flew Tuskegee Airmen that’s still flying today, for example.”
A catering area will also be on the second level.
“We think this is a great location for banquets and special events,” Anderson said. “We’ve presently configured a banquet area to accommodate about 450 people, overlooking the Living Hangar, so we could accommodate more people if we wanted to use hangar space. The same kitchen that serves our catering function will be available to a restaurant that we’re projecting to serve approximately 150 people.”
The restaurant will have about 240 degrees of visibility, from the Front Range through the whole airport environment, and will include an outdoor deck with seating area. The feasibility of an IMAX theater is also being studied.
Once visitors have encountered the “aviation experience,” it’s on to the “space experience.”
“Once the visitor has come through atmospheric flight, close to the earth, what we call aviation, we want to transition to an experience of limitless space,” he explained. “At least for now, the concept calls for a transition device to take people from the aviation experience into the space experience, to fool their senses and take them into a new environment.
“When the visitor steps out into this darker, sound-deadened space, mirrored glass and fiber optics up above can suggest that you’re in a galaxy far, far away. And here comes SpaceShipOne, or here comes this or that or the next thing from Planet Earth.”
Of course, the aircraft in that area will be scale models.
“We couldn’t accommodate the full-scale experience there, but juxtaposed in the right setting and the right background it will seem like you’re looking at the real thing from a certain distance,” he said.
Anderson said that ASCOR is also planning on expanding its educational programs.
“We understand that this museum, both at Lowry and Centennial, needs to be relevant to the world outside our aerospace community,” he said. “We need to be important to the people who might never want to fly an airplane or a spacecraft, but they still need to appreciate what aviation and space bring to our way of life. We see a great opportunity to do that through education.”
Wings recently secured a $60,000 grant from the Colorado Division of Aeronautics to add to the funds the museum has raised in the last two years to hire a fulltime director of education, as well as to create a classroom, computer lab and meaningful education programs. Anderson is very excited about an outreach mission they’ve named Spreading Wings.
“It will be an integrated, educational outreach initiative for kids from kindergarten through twelfth grade,” he said. “We took the ideas that would be appropriate to elementary, middle and high schools to all the Denver area school superintendents, and secured their unanimous support. We have representatives from 14 metro Denver area districts in a task force with us, all prioritizing and preparing some of these programs. We’re reviewing the best in the country, including some from EAA that can be integrated in the Denver schools.”
The plan is to have an impact in the schools as soon as possible, rather than through a long-term development process.
“We’re reviewing proven programs that we can apply here in Colorado,” he said. “Our three-year plan calls for Denver to be the focus of our first efforts in 2005, and Colorado in its entirety to be a focus of our second year. Then we’ll have enough momentum going for us that we’ll reach out to the states and region around us, to bring aviation and space educational programs into classrooms, out to airports and into museums as they relate to our mission.”
One of the programs up for consideration is Wild Blue Wonders.
“Wild Blue Wonders was a museum-based program in several parts of the country that EAA developed,” he said. “EAA withdrew from the program when they lost their sponsorship, but we’d like to continue it here in Denver.”
Besides that middle school program, Anderson said they’ll be looking at some exciting developments with computer technology that would bring youth to the museum to do student-directed, team-oriented math and science exercises, flying simulated missions.
“We’ll also be looking at Web-based education,” he said. “We have another grant to provide some high school elective aerospace science courses through the Web to kids in the Denver area.”
Anderson said it’s an exciting development process.
“Not only is it important how we work with the educators themselves, to assure success in schools, but we’ll be reaching out to volunteers from some of the great aviation organizations in this area, to be part of that process,” he said.
He said that to a person, the foundation’s board represents the passion of aviation.
“They regard the history and heritage of aerospace as a primary responsibility, but they’ve really distinguished themselves by their commitment to education,” Anderson said. “One of the reasons I’m here is because they sought and made an institutional commitment to education. Our board is unanimous in that conviction.”
Williams, who is still active in all of the developmental phases, and several others, such as Peter Paul Luce, were part of the original founding leadership group back in 1994.
“Several of them remain active today,” he said. “We’ve also had great new support come forward in recent years. Pat Wiesner is an awesome example of someone here at Centennial who has really taken the bull by the horns and recognized the responsibility and the timeliness of the opportunity. We can’t sit around and wait forever. We seized our tenth anniversary to try to make some plans and create a future for ourselves. Pat has been a very major part of that.”
They also have great educational support from people like retired state Senator Al Meiklejohn; Mike Massarotti, Westminster’s retired superintendent of schools; and Walt Barbo, who has created youth outreach programs.
“The board is a major asset of the organization, as are our volunteers and members at the museum, who turn out whenever we need them for special events,” he said.
ASCOR has about eight planning tracks moving forward.
“We decided we needed to make a statement with some of our plans—give people a museum profile they could relate to, based on our research,” he said. “We’ve done that. At the same time, we’re working on market studies, a business plan for the organization, the collection enhancement process that has to take place, and an organizational model that will accommodate two locations. We’re also beginning to plan our fundraising.”
He believes fundraising will be the natural result of meeting what they hope will be successful planning efforts in the other tracks.
“Frankly, at this point, other than funds for planning this exciting future, we’ve not laid out any major campaign plans, but they’ll soon come into focus,” he said. “It’s an ambitious program. We’re going to have to land some major commitments early on. We’ll also have to have a widespread base of support from all the people who value what aerospace means to our way of life.”
He said the museum expansion is an integral part of the organization’s mission to educate and inspire people of all ages with the past, present and future of aerospace.
“We believe aerospace is the embodiment of a lot of the values that have been part of Colorado’s history, since the days of the wagon trains, through the gold rush and the entrepreneurs,” he said. “It’s being lived out every day, right now, right here at Centennial. It’s being lived out by people like Rick Adam and by all the other paradigm breakers in aviation and space. And it’s being lived out at places like Lockheed Martin, by people looking to take us back to the moon and on to Mars.”
At Lowry, exhibits include the Colorado Aviation Historical Society’s Hall of Fame room to honor pioneering achievements. Anderson said the expansion project will build on that theme.
“The Centennial facility would give us a chance to honor the legacy of those who blazed a path into aerospace,” he said. “We want to shine a bright light on the kind of people who epitomize the pioneering spirit, like Harry Combs and Elrey Jeppesen—the kind of people who have embodied the essence of both Colorado and the spirit of aviation in their life.
“We want to talk about those stories. I think that inside every pilot and aviation enthusiast, there’s a real appreciation and respect for the people who have gone there before. We can all relate to people who have done things that we admire, things from which we benefit.”
He said recent surveys asked people to identify the major goals they thought were most valuable, including heritage, education and celebrating the positive human attributes associated with flight.
“Heritage won by a very narrow margin, but they all were surprisingly close in their importance,” he said. “The most important thing a museum can do is preserve the enduring values that its subject has brought to society and share them with others, especially young people, in a meaningful way.
“Aerospace is an awesome medium to inspire and educate because people can easily get excited, whether watching an airplane flying over, or seeing a launch at Cape Canaveral. We can’t put a price tag on the power of those possibilities. Wings has an opportunity to bring a focus to what aerospace does do for our way of life.”
Anderson said that along with influencing who comes to the airport, jobs, and what the airport actually looks like, the museum, as an educational and cultural institution, will add an important new dimension to Centennial’s presence.
“It will be a place where people can really understand and appreciate what happens at the airport as opposed to something they just pass by,” he said. “We fully expect that it’s going to have a very positive, enduring impact on this area. There are very few air and space museums located on an active airport. None will be as good as our combination.”