The Flying Heritage Combat and Armor Museum, an extensive collection of aviation and military artifacts started by Paul Allen in 2004, has been sold by the Microsoft co-founder’s estate.
News of a proposed sale to entrepreneur and philanthropist Steuart Walton, grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton, first broke in April and became official on Thursday.
The Everett, Wash.-based museum assets are being acquired by Walton’s Wartime History Museum, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that launched earlier this year with a mission to preserve and restore historic wartime artifacts. The organization wants to continue making warplanes and armor available through live exhibits, museum properties and public spaces.
“It has been an honor and a privilege for me to contribute to the development and care of this incredible collection, to share it with the public, to preserve and celebrate the important military history and the human stories of which we are the guardians. “, Adrian Hunt, executive director of Flying Heritage, said in a press release.
Hunt added that he is thrilled the museum continues to educate and inspire the community.
The War History Museum’s plan is to reopen FHCAM to the public, at its current location at Everett’s Paine Field, within the next year. No branding changes were announced, and information about FHCAM’s opening or future plans was not yet available.
The museum was closed in March 2020, along with several other Allen properties, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintenance and restoration of artifacts continued during the closure.
Since Allen’s death from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 65 in 2018, his sister and estate trustee, Jodi Allen, has dramatically transformed his many holdings. Facilities such as Seattle’s Cinerama theater and Living Computers Museum + Labs remain closed.
Walton is the co-founder of Runway Group, a holding company with investments in northwest Arkansas; and the co-founder and president of Game Composites, a company that designs and builds small composite aircraft.
He sits on the boards of Walmart and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, among other organizations, and is a licensed pilot as well as an airplane collector. His net worth has been estimated at $300 million.
“This incredible collection reminds us of the significance that vintage aircraft and other historic vehicles have had on our country and the world,” Walton said in a statement. “On behalf of my fellow WHM Board members, we hope to share these important artifacts for generations to come and uncover inspiring stories to help fuel innovation, understanding and exploration.”
The museum features aircraft, tanks, and armaments from the United States, Britain, Germany, Japan, and the former Soviet Union, many of which have been restored to their flying or driving condition. and emphasize authentic paint schemes and mechanical systems.
Among the gems of the Flying Heritage collection are a British de Havilland Mosquito fighter-bomber built at the end of the Second World War; a Soviet-era Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik attack aircraft; a German Junkers Ju-87 Stuka dive bomber; and the White Knight carrier aircraft that helped SpaceShipOne win the $10 million X prize for private spaceflight in 2004 with Allen’s backing.
“Paul has curated an incredible collection of significant aircraft and machinery that tell strong and important stories that need to be remembered and celebrated,” said Steve Hinton, president of the Planes of Fame Air Museum and former lead test pilot of the Air Force. FHCAM.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed and all proceeds will go to philanthropy.
This report includes previous reports by GeekWire editor Alan Boyle.