Exploring the Skies: The New Sullenberger Aviation Museum in Charlotte

June 13, 2024

Nestled in the vibrant city of Charlotte, North Carolina, the recently inaugurated Sullenberger Aviation Museum is a testament to the marvels of aviation history and innovation. This remarkable institution, previously known as the Carolinas Aviation Museum, has undergone a significant transformation, both in name and in its physical presence, to honor one of aviation’s most heroic figures—Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.

A Brief History of the Museum

The museum’s journey began in 1992 when it was founded by Floyd and Lois Wilson. Initially, it started as a modest collection of aircraft and aviation artifacts but quickly grew into a vital repository of aviation history, showcasing the rich legacy of flight in the Carolinas and beyond. Over the years, the museum has attracted aviation enthusiasts, historians, and families eager to explore the fascinating world of flight.

A New Home for Aviation Heritage

In 2024, the museum moved to a new, state-of-the-art location adjacent to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. This relocation was not just a change of address but a rebirth, offering enhanced exhibit spaces, interactive displays, and a more immersive experience for visitors. The new facility boasts expansive hangars, modern galleries, and an outdoor display area, providing ample room to showcase an impressive array of aircraft and aviation memorabilia.

Honoring a Hero: The Sullenberger Name

The museum’s new name pays homage to Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, whose extraordinary airmanship and leadership saved 155 lives during the “Miracle on the Hudson” in 2009. On January 15th of that year, US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese shortly after takeoff, resulting in a complete engine failure. Demonstrating exceptional skill and composure, Captain Sullenberger safely landed the aircraft on the Hudson River, ensuring all passengers and crew survived. This act of heroism captured the world’s imagination and underscored the importance of training, experience, and calm under pressure in aviation.

Showcases and Exhibits

The Sullenberger Aviation Museum offers a diverse array of exhibits that captivate and educate visitors of all ages:

  • Miracle on the Hudson Exhibit: This centerpiece exhibit features the actual Airbus A320 aircraft from Flight 1549, meticulously restored to its post-landing condition. Visitors can relive the harrowing yet inspiring events through multimedia displays, personal stories from survivors, and interactive simulations.
  • Historical Aircraft Collection: The museum houses a stunning collection of aircraft from various eras, including military jets, commercial airliners, and vintage planes. Highlights include a P-51 Mustang, a DC-3, and an F-14 Tomcat.
  • Interactive Flight Simulators: For those looking to test their piloting skills, the museum offers state-of-the-art flight simulators that provide a realistic flying experience, from takeoff to landing.
  • Aviation Innovations Gallery: This exhibit explores the technological advancements in aviation, from early flight experiments to modern aerospace engineering. Interactive displays and hands-on activities engage visitors in the science and innovation behind flight.
  • Educational Programs: The museum is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of aviators and engineers through a variety of educational programs, including school field trips, summer camps, and workshops.

Visit the Sullenberger Aviation Museum

Located at 4108 Minuteman Drive, Charlotte, NC, the Sullenberger Aviation Museum is conveniently situated near Charlotte Douglas International Airport, making it easily accessible for both locals and tourists.

Opening Hours:

  • Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Sunday: 12:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Whether you are an aviation enthusiast, a history buff, or a family looking for an engaging day out, the Sullenberger Aviation Museum offers a unique and enriching experience. Come and explore the stories of aviation pioneers, marvel at the technological wonders of flight, and be inspired by the heroism and ingenuity that continue to propel us skyward.

For more information, visit the museum’s website or call their visitor services.