SMO — After a nine-year hiatus, Santa Monica’s Museum of Flying will take off once more on Saturday with a host of new exhibits and lofty goals to encourage young people to engage in math and sciences.
The museum (http://museumofflying.com/) will open its new location at 3100 Airport Ave. at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 with a traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, and will offer $5 admission and hourly raffles as part of the festivities.
Visitors will find a new space outfitted with extensive exhibits on the history of the Douglas Aircraft Co., which played a huge role in Santa Monica’s growth, along with displays featuring other southern California aircraft and aerospace companies.
The revamped offerings will provide a broader representation of the history of flight, said Daniel Ryan, managing director of the Museum of Flying.
“We’re focused on featuring the companies here that had so much to do with the growth of the aviation industry,” Ryan said.
The new priority represents a departure from the museum’s own historical emphasis.
It was originally founded in 1974 by Donald Douglas Jr. as the Douglas Museum and Library before moving to the north side of the Santa Monica Airport from its southern end in 1989.
It reopened that April as the Museum of Flying, and had up to 50 vintage airplanes on display.
The museum closed its doors in July 2002 and eventually vacated the property in 2003 under economic pressures, Ryan said.
Visitors stopped coming in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the museum could no longer afford the extreme costs of its operational planes, which included several World War II fighters.
Maintenance and insurance on those airplanes, many of which were licensed as “experimental” aircraft, was extremely expensive, Ryan said.
The new museum has a much smaller flying component, and instead focuses on static displays, a 30-seat theater, the Douglas executive board room and even the cockpit of a 727 aircraft that visitors can sit in facing the runway.
Its new location has 22,000 square feet to accommodate the displays, and museum officials hope to create an educational program that will attract schools and get kids excited about science, technology, engineering and math, Ryan said.
“We want to introduce the importance of those skills to really achieve success in the academic world and the business world,” Ryan said.
The museum may be opening Saturday, but it hasn’t yet paid off the cost of its own construction.
Officials have raised over $2.5 million for the $4 million construction project, and hope to pad that total by an extra $1 million as an early endowment to bankroll future displays and activities, Ryan said.
Those interested in donating can go to the museum’s website and visit their “Capital Campaign” tab.