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Carolinas Aviation Museum reopening in 2023 as Sullenberger Aviation Museum

Photos from Carolinas Aviation MuseumFormerly known as the Carolinas Aviation Museum, the Museum announced a new moniker and plans for a grand re-opening. Now it is named the Sullenberger Aviation Museum in honor of Capt. C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger. On Jan. 15, 2009, Sullenberger famously landed US Airways Flight 1549 safely in the Hudson River in New York. Shortly after taking off from LaGuardia Airport (LGA) in an Airbus A320, the plane was struck by a flock of Canada geese and lost power in both of the engines. Sullenberger made an emergency landing on the Hudson River and all 155 people on board survived and were rescued by nearby boats. He retired a year after the famous landing, on March 3, 2010, after 30 years as a commercial pilot. He was hired by CBS News as an aviation and safety expert in May 2011. On June 15, 2021, President Joe Biden announced he would nominate him as the U.S. representative to the ICAO with the rank of ambassador. Sullenberger was confirmed by unanimous consent in the Senate on Dec. 2, 2021, and served from Feb. 3 to July 1, 2022.RELATED STORIES:Sullenberger steps down from ICAO council positionBiden Nominates Sullenberger as Aviation Ambassador The Thursday announcement was made with the aviation legend on hand, at Renaissance West STEAM Academy in west Charlotte with other museum leaders and officials to provide updates on the capital campaign and construction progress. The new facility will be adjacent to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT). The Museum housed the famous Flight 1549 plane, which was actually en route to Charlotte on the day of the Hudson River landing. It has been a corresponding exhibit since 2011. Many passengers on that flight called Charlotte home and many still do. Flight 1549 survivor Ric Elias, the CEO of Red Ventures, a diverse portfolio of influential brands, businesses and digital platforms, personally donated $1 million. This personal donation was alongside $500,000 from his company Red Ventures' Lonely Planet to the Lift Off Capital Campaign. "Flight 1549 changed the course of my life and gave me the ultimate gift of a second chance," Elias said. "The Museum is a tribute to the courage of Capt. Sullenberger and the entire flight crew, and my hope is that it will also inspire young innovators to change the world."Miracle on the Hudson plane on display The renaming of this 31-year-old museum signifies the new brand and new developments to its facility. The new facility will continue to display historical aircraft and will also become an elevated educational resource and innovation center to help shape the STEM workforce development pipeline in the region. "The Sullenberger Aviation Museum will be the premier aviation museum of the Southeast and will allow visitors to experience the past, present and future of aviation like never before," said Marc Oken, Sullenberger Aviation Museum Board Chair. "This reimagined museum will serve as a vital resource to help students and adults connect to careers in STEM-based industries all while showcasing the power and potential of the human imagination through the wonder of flight and transforming lives and economic vitality in the Carolinas." The 105,000-square-foot multi-building campus is projected to open by the end of 2023. The Sullenberger Aviation Museum will have immersive learning experiences including flight simulators, STEM education programs, interactive exhibits and authentic RFID storytelling of the Carolina's past, present and future in aviation. "Nearly 14 years ago to this day, Capt. Sullenberger saved the lives of over a hundred people thanks to his quick thinking and courageous actions spurred by years of specialized training in science, math and engineering, the combination of which allowed him and his crew to land Flight 1549 safely in the Hudson River," President of Sullenberger Aviation Museum Stephen Saucier said. "Capt. Sullenberger has committed his life to inspiring and educating future generations by elevating the wonder of flight and affirming the importance of STEM learning and equity, all of which mirrors our museum's mission," Saucier said. "Every inch of this new space is being designed to expand visitors' horizons and provide inclusive learning opportunities for all, and we are honored that our new name will reflect that spirit for years to come." After the ceremony on Sept. 27, 2022, construction began on the project. The goal was to make an important cultural tourism attraction and educational resource that can boost economic opportunity, particularly on Charlotte's west side. "Aviation - one of the most transformative industries in the world - has not historically been accessible to our underserved communities, but it is our hope that as more than a collection of aircraft, the Sullenberger Aviation Museum will serve as a vehicle of opportunity to inspire and elevate the next generation of innovators and future heroes," Sullenberger said. "I feel privileged that my name will be associated with such an awe-inspiring institution that is actively working to expand social, cultural and economic mobility in Charlotte and beyond." Chaired by Oken, the Lift Off Campaign is the largest capital campaign in the Museum's history and has raised 94 percent of the roughly $31 million anticipated cost. This included a $5 million commitment from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport's Cannon Fund, meant to develop an airport site for future facilities. A $1 million contribution was from Bank of America to name and sponsor the Miracle on the Hudson exhibit since the bank had almost two dozen employees on the flight. A $1.5 million gift was given from Honeywell. "Honeywell has a long history supporting STEM education around the world, and we are honored to play a role in helping bring to life this world-class innovation facility, now known as the Sullenberger Aviation Museum," Honeywell Chairman and CEO Darius Adamczyk said. "At Honeywell, we are in the business of creating a better, more sustainable future through our innovative products, solutions, and social programs. The opportunities in education and human ingenuity this museum will provide will be invaluable in developing the next generation of innovators." Honeywell will sponsor two key areas in the Museum. One is a themed exhibition zone in the main gallery known as Innovation Nation. This will present the history of aviation as a testament to humankind and its capacity for creativity and imagination of possibilities beyond the known. This will be where the US Airways Flight 1549 will be presented. Honeywell's 131-9A auxiliary power unit (APU) played a role in allowing the plane to land safely. The company will also sponsor the Maker Space, where young people can learn about aviation with interactive, hands-on activities and a Career Center specializing in STEM workforce development. Passengers from Flight 1549 have begun the Flight 1549 Campaign, a separate funding initiative dedicated to preserving the plane and funding any corresponding materials for the future. There are two phases across three buildings being conducted. They include a welcome center, a main exhibit hall and a preserved history hangar with an outdoor plaza featuring additional historic aircraft. When it opens in 2023, the Sullenberger Aviation Museum is expected to bring over 120,000 visitors annually and connect over 15,000 students to STEM programming and career development labs.
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