Spokane airport and business officials Thursday announced construction of a $2.8 million hangar at Felts Field that will house aviation services and a long-sought aerospace museum.
A group of three businessmen involved in aviation in Spokane are building the 40,000-square-foot hangar, which will be known as Felts Field General Aviation Flight Center.
One of three hangar bays will become the home of Honor Point Military and Aerospace Museum, which will be launching a fundraising drive to help pay for build-out of its interior space.
The project calls for leasing 10,000 square feet of the hangar to Honor Point, officials said.
“This is just a joyous day for aviators in Spokane,” said Tim Gump, president of EFT LLC, which is building the hangar.
The new facility will be located just southwest of the historic Felts Field terminal, clock tower and Chevron fuel sign, which are at the heart of the Felts Field complex along East Rutter Avenue.
Gump is an owner of EDMO Distributors Inc., of Spokane Valley, a worldwide supplier of avionics and pilot supplies. He also is an owner of Western Aviation, the fixed-base operator for general aviation services at Felts Field.
A crowd of aviation enthusiasts, business leaders and government officials gathered Thursday morning at a tent on the Felts Field apron adjacent to the site of the planned new hangar. A collection of historic biplanes were parked yards away.
Spokane Mayor David Condon told the gathering the project is a “great investment” for the region.
Spokane County Commissioner Al French, chairman of the Spokane Airport Board, said the private hangar will complement more than $16 million in publicly funded runway, taxiway and apron improvements since 2011 and continuing through 2016. Those improvements are coming from local funds and federal aviation grants.
Gump said the new hangar will bring a first-class facility for aviation services to Felts, something the city’s first airport has needed for years.
The metal hangar will incorporate design elements to complement the historic Art Deco buildings at Felts.
Gump said the economic recovery led to the decision by Gump and his partners to move ahead. The partners are Fred Lopez and Ed Lansberg.
Gump said the hangar will include parking space for high-priced corporate jets that have been using Felts Field regularly, including in winter months.
Tobby Hatley, who is now project manager for the aerospace museum, said the volunteer organization behind Honor Point has up to $1 million in corporate commitments for donations to get the project started.
Honor Point’s museum collection came from the former Fairchild Heritage Museum, which closed in 2002. The collection has been in storage since then.
Previously, the state agreed to provide $100,000 for a relocated museum, but the funding went unused, so Honor Point agreed to let the state rescind the commitment and use the money elsewhere.
Hatley said the interior design and displays could cost $4 million to $6 million. A fundraising drive is expected in the near future.
Design work for the museum is just getting started, Hatley said.
Honor Point found its way to Felts Field at the recommendation of Larry Krauter, the CEO of Spokane International Airport and Felts Field, after Krauter was hired in 2011. The two airports are publicly owned and operated by a single board and CEO.
“It’s a superb location,” Hatley said. Being at Felts Field will offer the museum the chance to hold different public events, including those involving operating aircraft.
Plus, Felts Field has become a civic center for the broader aviation community in Spokane, he said.
“You have guys at the airport here who are living history,” Hatley said.
Felts Field is one of the oldest federally designated airports in the country, according to the National Park Service. As a district, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
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