Donor Stories

Connecting People Through the History of Flight

Catherine Hall

Museum docent and donor, Catherine Hall

Northwest Airlines retired flight attendant Catherine Hall loved traveling the world, meeting people and exploring far away cultures. These days, the world comes to her. Catherine enjoys interacting with the hundreds of thousands of guests who visit the galleries each year from near and far, as a docent at The Museum of Flight.

Catherine appreciates the Museum as a place for visitors to come together and share their stories. “People need to connect, to find common things that we care about and want to learn more.” By experiencing the history of aviation and space exploration, Museum visitors can be inspired by the past and dream about the future.

1903 Wright Flyer Fragments Museum DisplayFrom those first moments walking into the T. A. Wilson Great Gallery, the first powered, controlled, manned Wright Flyer to the fastest, MD21 Blackbird, to exploring the cargo bay of the Full Fuselage Trainer, one can’t help to become curious by the wonders of flight. Catherine’s most memorable and favorite experiences as a Museum docent are when she is able to connect with a visitor who says they are not interested in flight when they arrive, yet depart several hours later with a new understanding of how planes and aviation changed the world.

The world of aviation is constantly evolving, pushing new boundaries and opening up opportunities for further exploration. Catherine views the Museum as a place for anyone to find inspiration from the stories of past aviators. “People accomplished amazing things under circumstances we could hardly comprehend now. Just think about the early men and women aviators, from Bessie Coleman to Amelia Earhart, to the Tuskegee Airmen who defied the boundaries of who should fly.”

1903 Wright Flyer Fragments Museum DisplayCatherine is always learning, too. During every docent shift, she collects a new tidbit—whether a story from a visitor about their personal flying experience or discovering a new-to-her artifact in one of the galleries. One of Catherine’s favorite artifacts are two small pieces of cloth and wood from the original Wright Flyer carried to the moon by Neil Armstrong. It amazes her to think that it was only 66 years between the Wright Brothers first flight over Kitty Hawk to Armstrong’s legendary first steps on the Moon. Through the preservation and exhibition of priceless artifacts such as this, visitors and volunteers alike gain new insights.

Catherine’s passion to connect people from around the world through the history of flight has inspired her not only to be a docent, but to support The Museum of Flight financially as well. She has made provisions in her will to leave a portion of her estate to the Museum, to share the legacy of flight with generations to come.

You too can make an impact and ensure that the Museum is place for people to come together for generations to come. A simple way to is to incorporate the following language in your will and estate documents: “I, [name], of [city, state, zip], bequeath to The Museum of Flight Foundation, Federal Tax ID #91-0785826 ($_______ or _______% of the estate or description of property) for its unrestricted use”.

To learn more about making The Museum of Flight part of your estate plan, please contact Sarah Szabo at 206-768-7199 or

Longtime Volunteer Grateful for Opportunities

Tom and Susan Hamman

Tom and Susan Hamman

Unforeseen yet tailor-made opportunities have come along at just the right moments in Tom Hamman’s career with The Boeing Company and as a volunteer and educator at The Museum of Flight. Tom and his wife, Susan, are grateful for each door that opened for him and believe in giving back to show their gratitude for their good fortune.

Tom’s tenure with Boeing began in 1979 during a company-wide expansion. Even though he earned a liberal arts degree as an undergraduate, he would get his start at Boeing as a methods analyst with the industrial engineering department. “Back then, they were looking for people who had the ability to learn the job ‘the Boeing way,’” says Tom. His adaptability and openness to new challenges served him well wherever he was placed during his 22 years with the Company. Susan also worked at Boeing for a number of years.

After Tom’s time at Boeing, he turned his energies into a new opportunity volunteering as a docent with The Museum of Flight. “I have always been impressed by the Museum,” shares Tom. “It’s not just the collection but how it is presented. It is all top-notch—the docents, facilities, everything about it.”

Tom’s favorite aircraft in the Museum’s collection is the M-21 Blackbird. As a docent, he became very familiar with the plane while leading “Tip to Tail” tours, though it was an inauspicious beginning. “On my first tour of the plane, we started with 20 people and by the end, we still had the same number of guests…but I’m not sure they were the original 20!” Tom jokes.

During his service as a Museum volunteer, Tom was offered the opportunity to join the staff as a part-time educator at the John Fluke, Jr. Challenger Learning Center (CLC) leading young students on virtual missions to Mars. Tom would spend seven years in that role, guiding more than 700 missions and teaching valuable teamwork skills to emerging explorers.

“The kids who experience the CLC have to go through a fairly rigorous mission, and it never failed to impress me how they stepped up to the challenges, dealt with crises and pulled together to achieve their goal of reaching Mars,” recalls Tom. “They were so consumed with the process, they never realized how much they were learning!”

Even though Tom and Susan no longer live in the Seattle area, they continue to support The Museum of Flight—in recent years through the purchase of several charitable gift annuities (CGAs). “We continue to be grateful for the opportunities the Museum provided, and CGAs are an ideal way for us to show our support,” he stresses. “They may appear confusing, though they are really quite straightforward, and the Museum has made them easy to set up,” Tom continues. “There are current-year tax advantages, and CGAs also provide long-term benefits for Susan and me, as well as for the Museum.”

To learn more about charitable gift annuities, or to make The Museum of Flight part of your legacy and estate plan, please contact Sarah Szabo at 206-768-7199 or

Charter Member Continues to Make a Difference

Paul HarveyPaul Harvey has a unique interest in The Museum of Flight's Red Barn. It’s a reminder of his family’s roots and an inspiration for those who will shape aviation into the future.

In 1940, The Boeing Company hired Stan Harvey, Paul’s father, to work in their Stress Group housed in the upstairs of the historic building. Stan worked on the B-17 and the then top-secret B-29. Paul recalls many evenings when his father’s projects were the highlights of the dinner conversation. While these stories inspired Paul’s interest in aviation, he took a different path. One as a pilot.

Following graduation from West Seattle High School in 1956, he enlisted in the Navy and became an aviation electrician. He attended the Naval Academy Prep School and in 1958, he entered Annapolis. After graduating in 1962 he went to flight school and, with study help from his new wife, Margi, he earned his wings. He was assigned to fly the P2V Neptune, the Navy’s maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft at the time.

With Vietnam activity ramping up in the mid-1960s, Paul found himself patrolling over the Gulf of Tonkin, interdicting supply boats of all sizes moving from North Vietnam. Paul left the Navy in 1968 and then spent 16 years flying for Western Airlines before making a dramatic career change, becoming a stockbroker.

His involvement with the Museum began 37 years ago when his father encouraged him to become a Charter Member of the Museum. He did so and has maintained his membership ever since. In 2010, he completed docent training and began twice a week shifts sharing his love of flight with Museum visitors.

“Each day I’m part of a different crew,” Paul says. “I’ve always enjoyed working as a team or crew member. You meet so many different and interesting people that way. I worked on many flight crews. I rowed crew at Annapolis and rowed with clubs locally for many years. I guess I just like to be with people working toward a common goal.”

Over the years, Paul’s investment in the Museum has continued to grow. As a retired financial advisor, Paul understands the importance of leveraging his personal investments to both support his retirement, as well as the nonprofits he cares deeply about. That is why Paul and Margi utilize their IRA to make generous contributions to the Museum. Together, they capitalize on tax incentives available by designating funds from their required minimum distribution (RMD) to benefit the Museum. They are also proud members of the Eagle Heritage Society having included the Museum in their estate plans.

Learn more about how you can make a difference through your IRA.

Celebrating a Life of Achievement

GeorgeJean EricksonAs a software engineer at The Boeing Company for more than 30 years, GeorgeJean Erickson was passionate about flight. Gena, as she was known to her family and friends, took pride in working for Boeing and sharing its accomplishments on display at the nearby Museum of Flight.

Gena was a Member of The Boeing Company for more than 25 years, frequently inviting her family and friends to explore the galleries! Visiting the Museum with her are still among their most favorite memories.

The Museum of Flight was part of Gena’s family celebrations and memorials. Her sister Christina Trosper fondly remembers her birthday celebration arranged by Gena at the Museum. Gena also helped put together a beautiful memorial service for her brother-in-law, Earl Bailey—an Air Force Navigator. Sisters Lenore Bailey and Linda Emoto, and Linda’s husband, Jerry, were treated to the memorable Apollo 11 50th Anniversary exhibition in 2019.

Gena’s great nephew, Ryan, remembers the days he went to work at Boeing with his aunt. They would often wrap up the day with a visit to the Museum. Gena enjoyed exploring all the exhibits and sharing whatever she knew about artifacts that he found interesting.

GeorgeJean EricksonSadly, Gena passed away in July 2020. During her many years at Boeing, she acquired shares of company stock, which she gave to the Museum through her estate. She was grateful for The Boeing Company and The Museum of Flight for celebrating the incredible milestones and achievements throughout aviation history, both here in the Northwest as well as across the country. Through her legacy gift, generations of families to come will continue to be inspired through the Museum’s artifacts and stories of flight.

Gifts of appreciated stock are a great way to support The Museum of Flight while avoiding potential capital gains taxes. In Gena’s case, her estate donated actual paper stock certificates issued by The Boeing Company. We can help answer any questions you might have regarding making a gift through stock. Please contact Sarah Szabo at 206-768-7199 or

Grateful for Every Day

Sharon and Wil Creeden

Sharon and Wil Creeden

An IRA Gift to Salute the B-52

“Fantastic” is how Wil Creeden describes The Museum of Flight’s B-52. The restored plane is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park centerpiece. Wil, a Vietnam B-52 pilot, is proud he supported its restoration with his individual retirement account (IRA). His annual withdrawal satisfies the required minimum distribution at age 70½ and provides great tax benefits. Wil and his wife, Sharon, are also grateful it’s supporting the B-52. “I never flew a B-52 that clean and shiny,” says Wil.

At 5 years old, the love of flying struck Wil. He climbed into an airplane near Saratoga, New York, where the Air Force trained World War II sea pilots. “That feeling,” says Wil, “never left me.” But that feeling gave him a scare while piloting the B-52.

Sharon and Wil CreedonDreams of being an Air Force pilot motivated Wil to volunteer. “It’s not going to happen,” the recruiter told Wil. “You are 5 feet, 3 inches tall—an inch too short.”

Not deterred, Wil volunteered again—pilots were needed. A new recruiter informally asked about his height. Wil lied, stating, “5 feet, 4 inches.” He was inducted and sent to fly B-47s in Kansas. There, he reconnected with Sharon, a high school friend. They married, turning Sharon into Wil’s staunchest supporter.

Wil was sent to fly B-52s in Vietnam. During his 40th bombing mission, while flying in close B-52 formation, tragedy struck by way of a mid-air collision. He bailed out, but lives were lost. Wil was not faulted for the accident, but it spooked him. He told Sharon he was done flying.

“No, you are not,” Sharon remembers saying. “I told him, ‘You are going to get right back in that cockpit.’  Wil loved every bit of his time in the air. He was just shaken up.”

“Miraculously, I was able to survive and Sharon was right. I needed to get back up in the sky,” Wil recalls. He went on to fly 110 more missions.

After retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel, Wil captained for Western Airlines (now Delta Air Lines) and then retired his wings. But The Museum of Flight, he says, “allows me to look at the old planes”. He appreciates that his IRA gifts support the Museum, which he believes honors history and provides education. And the B-52? It reminds him every morning, “I’m grateful for every day.”

If you would like to support The Museum of Flight with a gift from your IRA, like Wil, please contact Sarah Szabo at 206-768-7199 or to learn more.

Visionary Giving at a Young Age

Carol and Tal Godding

Chelsea celebrates the historic Apollo 11 moon landing, showcasing a priceless artifact—an American flag carried by Neil Armstrong on the mission—that was auctioned off at the gala. 

Most people support The Museum of Flight in their estate plans at a mature age. Not Chelsea Olson. At the age of 30, she named the Museum as a beneficiary of an insurance policy to support the endowment, collections and exhibits. Chelsea reported the intention in 2019 when a $5,000 Legacy Challenge inspired donors to document the Museum in their estate plans. Today, she is grateful for her decision.

"In these times of the coronavirus," Chelsea says, "if I am not here, I want other kids to have the same opportunity I had at The Museum of Flight."

Chelsea's impressive Museum relationship began by participating in camps, the Museum Apprentice Program and the Washington Aerospace Scholars (WAS)—she is now a WAS board member. She notes, "I viewed the Museum as the genesis for opportunity. The staff became my family away from my family."

Chelsea's aerospace interest delivered incredible career opportunities including an internship at Blue Origin, a University of Washington electrical engineering degree, six years at Boeing, and now as an electrical engineer for Amazon. Her responsibilities include testing lab hardware, but she is eyeing working for the International Space Station. Chelsea reveals, "I have always wanted to be an astronaut."

Chelsea is now on the Future Leaders Team of young professionals working with the Board of Trustees. She states, "The Board members are captains in the aerospace industry and wonderful mentors."

Including the Museum in her estate plan is a testament to what Chelsea values. She notes, "The greatest gift we were given is knowing what we wanted." For Chelsea, it just may be a space suit.

Like Chelsea, you can include a gift in your estate plan to make a lasting impact on The Museum of Flight. Contact Sarah Szabo at or 206-768-7199 for details.

Honoring a Legacy of Service and Flight

Carol and Tal Godding

Tal and Carol Godding

Tal and Carol Godding have a lifelong tie to the world of aerospace. As an electrical engineer, Tal specialized in Boeing military avionics and software integration. Starting as a computer programmer, Carol rose to be one of the first four women Boeing Company executives.

Since retiring, the Goddings have visited 60 countries and made friends all over the world. When in Seattle, they enjoy bringing guests to the Museum. “We feel part of the ‘inside story’ because we’ve had direct experience developing many of the Museum’s aircraft and spacecraft,” says Tal.

Museum of Flight galas and Pathfinder events have been occasions to celebrate with friends. The 2018 gala recognized Tal for his U.S. Air Force service along with other veterans of the Vietnam War.

At the Museum’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park, the Goddings have honored several friends and family with tribute plaques. Their fathers were pilots in WWII: Tal’s flew with the Navy and Carol’s was an Air Force pilot who also served in Vietnam. 

“The Museum of Flight wraps up our legacy of aerospace and military service, sharing the history of our families and ourselves. We’ve had good lives, worked hard and are lucky enough to have assets. We want to have a lasting impact,” Tal says.

To accomplish this, the Goddings have included The Museum of Flight in their estate plan. Prioritizing education, human services and the arts, Carol and Tal are thoughtful about their charitable gifts to the Museum and other community organizations. 

“We encourage others who want to build their legacy to think of how to best use their time, talent and treasure. Understanding what your favorite organizations are doing for the community—and how you can help—is a learning process,” Carol says.

To learn more about how you can make the Museum a part of your legacy, contact Sarah Szabo at 206-768-7199 or

Inspiring Future Generations Through Giving

Linda Dawson

Linda Dawson worked at NASA as an aeronautical flight controller. Her passion for flight continues today through her support of the Museum.

Growing up in the space age, Allan and Linda Dawson were inspired by all things related to aviation and space. Linda built an exciting career at NASA as an aeronautical flight controller for the Space Shuttle Program and as an aerospace engineer at Boeing Space Center in Kent, Washington.

While at NASA, Linda met astronaut Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, who later became The Museum of Flight's President and CEO. Dr. Dunbar successfully recruited her for the Museum's Space Committee after Linda began teaching at the University of Washington. Linda's expertise in math, science and engineering has benefited the Museum's Education and Space Committees and educator programs for almost 20 years.

The Dawsons are long-term members and have both served as volunteers at the Museum: Allan as a docent and Linda as a committee member and educator. They've also enjoyed volunteering together as a team.

Teamwork is a theme in the Dawson home. In drafting their wills, Allan and Linda each included The Museum of Flight and have each qualified for the Legacy Challenge. Allan directed his $5,000 matching gift toward the Education Fund, while Linda chose to support the Collections and Restoration Fund with her matching money. They are pleased with the idea of securing a donation today for their favorite areas of the Museum just by notifying the Museum of their plans for tomorrow.

Linda's favorite area is the shuttle trainer and Charles Simonyi Space Gallery. "I feel a personal connection to the future and helping shape that future in some way," she says. "Staying involved in aviation and space renews my spirit." She hopes the Museum will continue to acquire important space-related artifacts and lead the way in telling the story of space exploration.

Allan and Linda Dawson

Linda and Allan Dawson each included The Museum of Flight in their wills, qualifying them both for the Legacy Challenge.

As for the impact they hope their gifts will have now and in the future, Allan says, "I want kids to feel like someone cares about them and wants good things for them. My best memories of being a docent are when school buses rolled up in the mornings and groups of kids would pile out and into the Museum. They were excited and ready to learn."

When Linda brought college students on field trips to the Museum, she says, "There were always a few students who had never visited a museum before. It's important to inspire them, and this is a great place to do that."

Although now retired, Allan from the railway industry and Linda as senior lecturer at UW, the Dawsons are staying busy. Linda has authored two books about space, her most recent being "War in Space: The Science and Technology Behind Our Next Theater of Conflict."

Now, as new members of the Museum's Eagle Heritage Society, Allan and Linda are helping build a pathway to the stars for generations to come.

To learn more about the Legacy Challenge and how you can qualify, or to notify us of your gift, contact Sarah Szabo at or 206-768-7199.

Gratefully Honoring the Past

Randa and Jonathan Abramson

The 1984 campaign and operations staff included Randa Cleaves Abramson, far right, and Alison Bailey, back row, sixth from right. Photo credit: Vern Rutledge.

When Randa and Jonathan Abramson met in 2002, they were surprised to learn that aviation was one of the interests they shared.

Randa was a member of the Museum's capital campaign staff to build the T.A. Wilson Great Gallery. From 1984 to 1986 she worked closely with Alison Bailey, who is now the Museum's longest-term employee. Randa is designating her Legacy Challenge matching gift to honor Alison and their work together.

The Legacy Challenge offer to earn a $5,000 donation for the Museum grabbed their attention when Randa and Jonathan were updating their wills after the birth of their grandson. They wanted to provide for charities and chose to include The Museum of Flight.

Randa and Jonathan Abramson

Randa and Jonathan Abramson

In addition to being impressed with the impact Museum programs are having on youth, they each have personal connections to the Museum.

Randa's father was an aeronautical engineer, working with gyros, guided missiles and on the Manhattan Project. Randa began working with nonprofits, and she recalls, "The Museum of Flight was the only fundraising project my father understood." Her son echoes that sentiment; when asked what his mother does, he says with pride, "Mom helped build The Museum of Flight."

Jonathan says, "In addition to being proud of Randa for walking out on a wing to build the Great Gallery, I'm making a 'gratitude gift' for the team that did the fundraising and for…all the people that made it happen."

Jonathan's father was also involved in aviation. When all his buddies were being drafted into the Korean conflict, Jonathan's dad opted to become a "flyboy." 18 years old when he completed flight training, he was assigned as a B-29 turret gunner. His Air Sea Rescue squadron flew out of Guam in B-29s equipped with boats in the bomb bays. On Jonathan's first visit to the Museum with his own son, they found themselves in the midst of a reunion of B-29 crew members. It was a special moment, seeing veterans—men just like Jonathan's father—reuniting and remembering.

On another visit to the Museum, Jonathan toured the Aviation Pavilion and saw the Museum's B-29, T-Square. "It's a pristine renovation of a plane similar to the one my father and his crewmates spent two years of their young lives flying rescue duty in."

By planning their future gifts, the Abramsons will make an impact that wouldn't have been possible during their lifetimes. Randa and Jonathan are proud to be part of sustaining this great institution for generations to come.

To learn how you can make The Museum of Flight a part of your legacy, contact Sarah Szabo at or 206-768-7199.

Welcome Aboard!

Fran and John Weiss

Fran and John Weiss

When John and Fran Weiss included The Museum of Flight in their wills, they did not realize they would be helping the Museum receive immediate funding as well. But, seeing the Legacy Challenge ad in Aloft magazine, it just clicked. They quickly chose to get on board by letting the Museum know about their gift.

“The Legacy Challenge was an easy decision. We had already made the Museum part of our estate plan. It was a simple process to fill out the form and do the notification,” says John.

A matching gift of $5,000 was made in honor of John and Fran from the Legacy Challenge matching pool. They chose the Volunteer Program Fund to receive their matching gift.

“Being a docent, I’ve seen the time and effort it takes to train and organize more than 900 volunteers. I think volunteers perform a service that benefits the Museum, the visitors and the community.”

By accepting the Legacy Challenge, John and Fran also became members of the Eagle Heritage Society—a group of supporters who have included the Museum in their future plans.

Both John and Fran were engineers by education. John served 20 years in the Navy flying A-4s and A-6s, retiring in 1994. After working several years as a Flight Test Engineer and Software Engineer, he returned to flying, this time in 747s with Atlas Air. After his second retirement in 2017, John came to the Museum to work (for free!) as a docent. Fran’s experience in the world of aviation came from her 32 years as an industrial engineer with FedEx. While we mourn her untimely death from cancer in 2019, we continue to honor her legacy through her past gifts.

John and Fran, we salute you.

Flying the Friendly Skies

Suzie Jenner

Suzie Jenner had never flown before flying to San Francisco, where she was stationed as a flight attendant for United Airlines.

In the 1960s, United Airlines billed itself as "The Extra Care Airline" and depended on its stewardesses (now called flight attendants) to carry out the company's promise. Suzie Jenner was a student at the University of Washington and a graduate of Seattle's Roosevelt High School. She knew she was the girl for the job.

Suzie interviewed a stewardess for her high school class assignment and later, as a sophomore at the UW, she applied to be a stewardess herself. She approached airlines whose minimum age was only 20—United Airlines and TWA—and was hired by United. Suzie says, "It was a big deal to have ANY career and to be a stewardess was thought of as being especially glamorous."

Stewardess training included how to deliver a baby although only three mid-air births had ever occurred in the history of aviation at the time. Suzie was stationed in San Francisco and took her first flight on a jet to get there. But soon she was flying on both props and jets to New York, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver.

Suzie JennerUnited was the first operator of Boeing's 720 jet and also flew the DC-8 and Boeing's 727. Suzie was once a crew member on the Museum’s 727, now on exhibit in the Aviation Pavilion.

In addition to serving full meals and beverages, stewardesses also took tickets. "The passenger was king," remembers Suzie. Celebrities often flew out of San Francisco and one couple, "Mr. and Mrs. Rogers," turned out to be Hollywood stars Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Suzie also flew on Convair 340 flights from San Francisco to Monterrey taking soldiers bound for war in Vietnam to Fort Ord for basic training.

During Suzie's career, United Airlines was the most powerful domestic airline in the United States and had the highest number of passenger-miles of any U.S. airline—beating out American, Eastern and TWA. Suzie attributes the airline's success to "Pat" Patterson, United's president. "He was very respectful, and everyone knew him. He would personally travel as a passenger to check out all the stations."

Suzie JennerAfter four years of flying the friendly skies, Suzie "married myself off the job." Stewardesses were not allowed to marry and thus many careers were shortened. The average tenure was 18 months. Suzie continued to work for United Airlines' reservations in Reno, Nevada and remembers, "The Reno Air Races had begun in 1964 and it was the place to be for aviation."

Years later, Suzie became involved with Seattle's chapter of "Clipped Wings," an association of former United Airlines flight attendants or stewardesses. Their name reflects what happened in the days when flight attendants married. Through Clipped Wings, Suzie volunteered at The Museum of Flight when the Red Barn first arrived. She sold "bonds" to raise money for the Museum's B-17 and also became a Museum docent, leading tours and volunteering at Emerald City Flight Fest and the Museum's galas.

Suzie JennerSuzie's love for The Museum of Flight and aviation continues. "I decided to put the Museum in my Will because I think education and history are important. And not just aviation history. To make a well-rounded person, you need music, art and different experiences. The Museum has all that and more."

In addition to providing for her family's future which includes a special needs trust, Suzie has included the Museum in her planning. "My hope is that, through programs like the Challenger Learning Center, the Museum will give people, especially children, the courage to go on and make something big in the world."

She wants others to believe that they, too, can become a company president or an astronaut or a commercial airline crew member.

To learn how you can help the Museum continue to inspire the children and young adults who visit, contact Sarah Szabo at or 206-768-7199.

Be a Benefactor

Jake Schultz

Jake Schultz

Jake Schultz built model aircraft as a kid and was determined to have a career in aviation. He looks back with satisfaction on his involvement with The Museum of Flight, where he will leave a lasting impact for future generations.

Jake’s enthusiasm for building and flying model airplanes was encouraged by his father and grew into a love for vintage aircraft. Today, Jake is an expert on the history of the Taylor Aerocar, authoring the 2006 book A Drive in the Clouds:The Story of the Aerocar.

He began his career with the Boeing Company in 1987 as an assembly mechanic on the first six pre-production V-22 Ospreys. He moved to Seattle in 1990 and has been involved with the configuration studies since the earliest design phase of commercial jets.That was when he discovered The Museum of Flight.“It’s amazing to see how much the Museum has grown since I first visited,” he says.“There wasn’t even a café at the time!”


Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Museum has been part of Jake’s life for 25 years. He helped coordinate Museum public programs from 1999–2000, creating events focused on early aviation and space pioneers.Today, Jake remains involved with The Museum of Flight by serving on the Spaceflight Committee.

Jake has a great appreciation for the lasting impact the Museum’s exhibits have on visitors. Over the years, he has donated historic and rare artifacts from his personal collection, some of which are currently on display at the Museum.To provide ongoing maintenance for his donated items, Jake has named The Museum of Flight as beneficiary of his life insurance as part of his estate planning.The idea of continuing to inspire inquisitive minds beyond his lifetime was intriguing to Jake:“I knew I wanted to be a benefactor!” he says.

Creating a Lasting Impact for Future Generations
Watching The Museum of Flight grow from its humble beginnings, Jake is eager to see the organization continue to thrive. He may not be around to celebrate the Museum’s 100th anniversary, but he wants young people to be aware of the rich possibilities of the future.

“The more I am involved with The Museum of Flight and the people who support it, the more I am drawn to do what I can with my time and resources,” Jake says. “It’s humbling to have had so many aviation people show kindness to me and I look to pay that forward.”

By naming The Museum of Flight as a Life Insurance Beneficiary, Jake is helping guarantee future generations the chance to explore their passions for aviation and space.

A Fitting Tribute

Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson's gift will go toward Project Welcome Home.

As the Vietnam War raged, Bill Wilson graduated from Iowa State University in 1970 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. He became a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and deployed October, 1972 as an F-111A Pilot/Weapons System Operator with the 429th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 474th Tactical Fighter Wing. Lt. Wilson flew 34 successful combat missions over Vietnam until he went MIA and evaded capture in the jungle before becoming a POW.

The U.S. launched Operation Linebacker II on December 18, 1972, intending to bring North Vietnam to the negotiating table and release the nearly 600 Americans being held as prisoners of war. During the 11-day bombing campaign, more than 1,300 sorties were flown by B-52s, F-4s and F-111s over the Red River Valley near Hanoi.

On December 22, Lt. Wilson and Capt. Bob Sponeybarger attacked cargo docks at Hanoi flying at near-supersonic speed only a few hundred feet off the ground. After destroying the target, their F-111's right engine caught fire. Bill remembers, "That's serious at 300 feet, at night. There were a lot of people firing up at us and it was probably a 50mm machine gun that hit us."

The two crewmen ejected before the plane crashed in a fiery blaze. Following protocol, they split up and Sponeybarger was captured after two days. Wilson had a .38 revolver, a survival knife, a radio, no food and very little water. He spent Christmas hungry and hiding in enemy territory.

Bill Wilson Jolly Green Giant helicopters made two unsuccessful attempts to rescue Wilson. He survived five days without food or water before being taken prisoner on December 29 and transported to the Hanoi Hilton.

Held captive for 92 days, Wilson and Sponeybarger were evacuated on the last C-141A out of Hanoi on March 29, 1973. The POWs deplaned at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines and were greeted as American heroes much to Wilson's surprise. Stateside, they were hosted by President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger at The White House.

After continuing his service with the US Air Force and Air National Guard, Bill was hired on at Boeing. He was a flight deck design engineer on the first electronic flight instruments and automatic navigation systems in the mid-1980s. Wilson was lead engineer for cockpit design on the X-32 Joint Strike Fighter Concept Demonstrator and worked on F-22 Raptor Pilot Training Systems.

Retiring after 27 years, Bill joined the Museum's docent corps. When not spending time with his wife, Gayle, and the three children and four grandchildren they share, Bill enjoys volunteering as a docent at The Museum of Flight.

Bill recently made a tax-wise gift to support Project Welcome Home by making a direct transfer of his IRA's minimum required distribution. "I'm proud of this Museum for building the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park. It's a nice recognition that many of us didn't receive after the war."

To learn more about supporting the Museum with a gift from your IRA, or for help finding the right gift for you, contact Sarah Szabo at or 206-768-7199.

Hooked on a Feeling

Ron and Clare King

Ron and Clare King

Ron King knew he was an airplane nut at an early age.

"I made balsa models of Cubs, WWII Hellcats and Corsairs. I was inspired seeing my first jet bomber, the B-47, flying low over our family farm in Northwest Iowa, trying to fly under the radar toward Offutt Air Force Base," Ron says. "Neither man, child, cow, nor pig knew what to make of it, but I was hooked."

Fast forward to Ron studying Aeronautical Engineering at Iowa State University. He first worked at Boeing in Seattle as a 20-year-old summer student in 1956 and joined Boeing permanently in 1958. Ron enjoyed a 38-year career with Boeing: 10 years in Aerodynamics, 25 years in Domestic and International Sales, and three years in Technical Services–Customer Services Division. Since retiring in 1996, Ron has continued to join his Boeing colleagues for monthly lunches and occasional rounds of golf.

Ron and Clare King grew up on family farms in northwest Iowa and attended one-room country schoolhouses. When their country schools closed, Ron and Clare were each enrolled in the "town" school. That's where they became good friends—and still are, 68 years later.

Bellevue, Washington, is home now, but the Kings have returned to Iowa often—sometimes with their kids in tow—to visit family and friends. The Kings' four children and four grandchildren all live in the Puget Sound area.

Ron and Clare have been Museum of Flight members and supporters since the campaign to build the Great Gallery in 1984. Some of their favorite projects to expand the Museum have included the Personal Courage Wing and the new Aviation Pavilion.

"The Eagle Heritage Society is a great way to make a commitment to the Museum that will reach far into the future, meeting the needs of future generations," says Ron. The Kings are hoping to plant seeds of inspiration as the Museum cultivates new crops of boys and girls. They, too, will grow up hooked on flight.

Your Support Matters

You can follow in the Kings' footsteps and help future generations grow up hooked on flight. Contact Sarah Szabo at or 206-768-7199 to learn about the many ways you can support the Museum's future with a planned gift.

An Investment in Aviation's Future

Sam and Betty Houston

A shared interest in aviation inspired Betty and Sam Houston to name The Museum of Flight as a beneficiary of their estate.

Frank “Sam” Houston has a background that can only be described as heroic. He flew many B-17 bombing missions in WWII’s European theater, including seven missions into Berlin, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (730th Squadron, 45th Bomb Group) for his service.

Sam volunteered for the Aphrodite program, a top-secret effort based in England to fly remote-controlled planes, laden with 20,000 pounds of high explosives, into targets near the European coast. This program was a result of intelligence that Germany was developing the V-3, a “supergun” cannon to be used to bombard London from northern France. The Aphrodite aircraft were very dangerous. The two crewman on board had to bail out at 1,000 feet after the airplane was put on course near another controlling aircraft. The Aphrodite program was eventually cancelled, but it helped lay the technical framework for today’s remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Sam’s bravery was evident as many pilots were lost because the airplanes would sometimes prematurely detonate before the crew could bail out. One of those was a Navy pilot flying a Pb4Y on Aug. 12, 1944: Joe Kennedy, Jr.

Sam HoustonAfter serving his country, Sam met his bride-to-be in Spokane, Washington. They moved to Seattle, where Betty held two full-time jobs while he looked for work. Betty’s nights were spent at Northwest Airlines as one of only eight reservationists booking tickets for NWA passengers. During the day, she worked at Bon Marché in the menswear department. When Betty was young, she took flying lessons but could not afford to get her license. She also could not afford to attend college and felt her career was limited because she was a woman.

Sam became a pilot for Northwest Airlines and flew mostly 747s for more than 30 years. In 1982, Betty hosted his retirement party in The Museum of Flight’s Red Barn before the T.A. Wilson Great Gallery was built. That same year, Sam became a Museum trustee, serving until 1986.

Betty and Sam enjoyed many friendships throughout the world. Although the couple had no children of their own, Betty helped bring orphans to the U.S. from Asian countries after she retired from Northwest Airlines.

The Houstons made plans in their will for The Museum of Flight to be the residual beneficiary of their estate. The Museum would receive the remainder, what was left after providing for other beneficiaries. Sam passed away in 2002 and Betty made sure their updated will honored the wishes they had agreed on together.

Through their planned giving, Betty and Sam chose to provide educational funding and flying lessons, and to give young women the opportunities that Betty was not afforded. They also wanted to support the Museum’s B-17.

The Frank “Sam” and Betty Houston Education Endowment was established at the Museum after Betty’s passing. The endowment will provide increased educational opportunities and will encourage young women to explore aerospace careers. The Houston’s dreams and passion for aviation will live on for generations to come.

Support What Matters Most

A future gift to The Museum of Flight can benefit our services and educational programs for generations to come. Contact Sarah Szabo at or 206-768-7199 to learn more.

Herbert Bone Jr.: How It All Began

herb boneWhen Boeing's Red Barn was barged up the Duwamish River in 1975, The Museum of Flight had not yet been "born." Its predecessor, the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation, with exhibits at the Seattle Center, had secured the new location at Boeing Field. This would eventually become The Museum of Flight with the Red Barn as its anchor building. Herb Bone joined PNAHF as a member in 1974.

Georgia FranklinBy the time restoration of the Red Barn began in 1980, a youth education program had been introduced by Georgia Franklin, one of the Museum's first staff members. Georgia took aviation and aerospace programs to schools and also visited adult groups to encourage support for the planned aviation museum. After presenting to the Marymoor R/C Club, Georgia led club members, including Herb, on a tour of the Red Barn with its exhibits still under construction.

Herb was captivated by the vision of expanding the Museum's facilities and programs. When the Red Barn opened to the public in 1983, plans were already in place for the "Great Gallery." Herb generously donated shares of appreciated stock in The Boeing Co. to the Phase II Capital Campaign. Today, on special occasions, Herb wears the square red lapel pin given to donors of that historic campaign.

Expertise in Engineering
After graduating from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University) in 1951, Herb began his career with the Glen L. Martin Company in Baltimore (now Lockheed Martin). As an engineer specializing in hydraulics, Herb's design jobs involved equipment operating with some type of fluid: jet fuel, rocket propellants, thick oils, or aircraft hydraulic fluid.

In 1964, he and fellow engineer Gordon Sholes invented and proposed a unique system for use by NASA: a special hydraulic and pneumatic support system used in testing the 6-million-pound Saturn V Moon Rocket.

Shortly after that project, Herb was "loaned" to The Boeing Company for the SST program. He stayed on with Boeing and became a lead engineer with hydraulic flight control. Retiring in 1992, Herb had worked primarily on the Boeing SST, 747-SP, 747-400, 767 and 777 projects.

A Natural Fit
Herb began volunteering with The Museum of Flight three months after retiring. In addition to teaching school programs, he worked on projects for the education department and the exhibits department. He served as chairman of the Museum's Docent Leadership Council in 1998, 1999 and 2001. When Herb retired in 2006 from his active docent role, he had amassed more than 3,000 volunteer hours.

In 2001, when the Champlin Collection of historic military aircraft joined the Museum's collection, Herb supported the campaign to build the J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing. Once again, he donated Boeing stock to the Sky Without Limits capital campaign.

Today, when Herb brings his family and friends to the Museum he proudly escorts them through the galleries and exhibits he knows so well. Herb feels that everyone should come see The Museum of Flight and "be willing and anxious to help make it better."

Herb recently donated more Boeing stock to the Museum, this time in honor of someone he credits with promoting the Museum in the early years. The note of thanks he received said: "Wanted you to know how much it meant to me. Have been away from there a long time but I poured my heart and soul into that facility. Thank you so much for thinking of me. Sincerely, Georgia Franklin." A thoughtful tribute to how it all began.

Create Your Legacy
Donating securities is one many ways to create a legacy of support for The Museum. Contact Sarah Szabo at 206-768-7199 or  to learn how to support The Museum of Flight.

Aviation Luminaries Inspire Giving

G WalkerGreg Walker's first flights were in an old wooden-winged Bellanca with a triple-tail. He was eight years old and flying with his father, who was taking lessons in Tallahassee, Florida.

After moving to California with a degree in finance, Greg worked for a refrigerated airfreight company and was president of Spirit Airways, a helicopter airline. Eventually, he would return to finance and work as a mortgage broker until retiring in 2007.

Greg earned his private pilot's license in 1977, received training in aerobatics, and flew his Cessna 172 for several years.

As president of the California Aviation Council, he met Lew Wallick in 1979 at a Merced, California, fly-in. Lew was piloting a P-12 that is now on display in the Museum's T.A. Wilson Great Gallery. The P-12, flown by greats like Lew Wallick, Bob Mucklestone and Orville Tosch, is still Greg's favorite aircraft.


One of the proud owners – S. L. Wallick, Jr.

When he saw the plane on display at the Museum, Greg was reminded of the terrific people he met thru aviation. Since his first visit in 1995, Greg has returned to The Museum of Flight almost every year. 

"The Museum is a beautiful venue with a great collection of planes and artifacts, but there's more to it than the displays. I like the educational aspect and how the new Raisbeck Aviation High School helps cap that," Greg says. "The Museum continues to fascinate not by just displaying old metal, but by showing the story of flight. We must stimulate the curiosity of the public into understanding the need for a good education and what it can lead to."

Building for the Future
"My visits there have been memories never to be forgotten. I'm very proud to be a supporter. As a friend once said, ‘pick something and support it well. You can't support 25 things well,'" Greg says. 

When Greg received a message from former Boeing test pilot Brien Wygle on behalf of the Museum, it started him thinking about greater participation in the Museum's future.  

"The fact that I'm able to designate a portion of my IRA to The Museum of Flight, I feel, is a good use of funds. If we could get more people to do the same, think of what could be built," Greg says. 

A Lifetime Dedicated to the B-29

Group Photo Marlene Taylor Houtchens was on staff with The Boeing Company for 39 years. She continued her love for Boeing's B-29 when she signed on with the volunteer crew to refurbish the "Fifi" B-29 in the early 1990s. 

Her late husband, Lowell Houtchens, had an interesting career experience with the B-29. He was a Boeing field service representative assigned to the Marianas assisting with military operations of the B-29s. As it turned out, he was on the island of Tinian when the historic B-29 Enola Gay took off from there to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, effectively ending World War II. 

After Lowell's retirement in 1987 after 46 years with Boeing, he and Marlene were actively involved with The Museum of Flight's B-29 Superfortress T-Square54 restoration project until his passing in 2000. Lowell was a charter member of the Museum, joining in 1985. His many volunteer hours earned him the prestigious Lifetime Volunteer Barnstormer membership. 

MarleneMarlene's dreams and donations continue toward making sure that T-Square will be proudly displayed and under cover at the Museum. For more than 20 years, she has enthusiastically supported the Museum's B-29 project with her time and contributions. Marlene still volunteers regularly at the Museum. 

Her support of the "care and maintenance" of T-Square got a boost recently when she directed the proceeds from the sale of real estate to a charitable gift annuity. Marlene will receive quarterly payments for life, and her capital gains tax from the sale will be significantly offset by her charitable gift deduction. "I'm happy to invest that money with the Museum to make sure T-Square is taken care of for the future," Marlene says. 

Doug and Robbi DeVries Make a Win-Win Gift

Tanzania Doug DeVries didn't initially dream of becoming a pilot, but he spent much of his adventurous and curious youth taking apart, rebuilding and making better just about anything he could get his hands on. Fast forward to present, and Doug has not only became a pilot, but he and wife Robbi have explored the globe - from Australia to the Artic to Africa - in their rebuilt 1942 Stearman and 1955 de Havilland Beaver. Both planes were rebuilt by Doug, fueled by his passion and curiosity.

After he watched his father battle ALS ("Lou Gehrig's disease"), Doug's desire to make things better guided him to develop a portable life-support ventilator. Robbi also devoted her early career to healthcare, working as a coronary nurse. Together, they founded Pulmonetic Systems in 1997 and created the LTV, a portable ventilator that improved the quality of life for thousands of patients, including actor Christopher Reeves.

When Doug and Robbi sold the company in 2006, they had a substantial appreciated stock tax liability to mitigate as well as longstanding philanthropic desires to fulfill. Doug was newly involved as a Trustee at The Museum of Flight, so Robbi and he conferred with their professional advisors and decided to transfer part of that stock into a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT). The CRT enabled the DeVrieses to sell the stock without payment of capital gains, enjoy a significant tax deduction, receive a lifetime income stream, and provide a deferred gift to The Museum of Flight to establish "The Douglas and Robbi DeVries Endowed Fund" at the end of their lives. The Charitable Remainder Trust perfectly combined their desire to take care of their tax needs while creating a meaningful philanthropic legacy.

Robbi DougDon't forget to say thank you to Robbi and Doug next time you see them. Robbi and her Seattle Children's Hospital's Festival of Trees crew decorate the Museum's tree every December, while Santa is delivered by Doug in his de Havilland Beaver!

Lifelong Passion for Aviation Grows Through Volunteer Work at The Museum of Flight

Born and raised in Seattle, Richard Arensberg was fascinated with aviation from a young age. He lived in awe of his older brother, who joined the Army Air Corps in World War II. 

As he grew, so did his passion for aviation: Richard eventually graduated from model-building to flying lessons. Richard continues to engage his passion by volunteering in the Museum's Air Park, where he often greets international visitors in their native language with phrases learned traveling with his wife, Dianne. 

Richard and Dianne just celebrated 52 years of marriage. Dianne knows how much Richard enjoys volunteering at the Museum, and she recently surprised him with a birthday party in the View Lounge with their family and friends. 

Strong supporters of education, Richard and Dianne are vocal proponents of Seth Margolis, the Museum's education director. "Our education programs are terrific! They just keep getting better and better," Richard says.  Richard and Dianne

Richard and Dianne are thrilled with the opening of Raisbeck Aviation High School on the Museum campus. They have contributed to the Museum's endowment and to new exhibits, including the Lockheed Electra 10-E. "We want these programs and exhibits to continue for many years as part of our legacy," Richard says.

Members of the  Eagle Heritage Society, Richard and Dianne enjoy attending the annual luncheons and Museum events. "The Museum of Flight enriches the fabric of our community," Richard says. "We believe it's important to give back."

Air Force Vet Honors 'Unsung Hero'

HermanHerman Nickel served in the military for 30 years during World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam. In World War II, he repaired B-29s running bombing missions out of China.

After retiring from the Air Force, Herman and his wife, Cecilia, settled in the Puget Sound area with their two children. Herman held civilian jobs in retirement and was a founding investor in a Washington winery. 

Cecilia supported Herman as he served with the Air Force all over the world, making her an unsung hero in his eyes. Although Cecilia passed away in 2001, after 55 years of marriage, Herman continues to honor her memory with tribute gifts. 

NickelsHerman is listed on the Military Wall of Honor in the J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing. His estate plan includes a bequest to the Museum's endowment. In 2011, Herman established a charitable gift annuity with The Museum of Flight. 

"My CGA pays me for doing something good!" he says. Herman receives his quarterly tax-wise payment of 8.9 percent for life.

Keeping the Dream of Flight Alive

By Bill McCutcheon 
McCutcheonWhen my wife, Marji, and I recently reviewed our estate plan, we decided that after providing for our daughters the rest should go toward the things we care about most deeply. We agreed to add the Museum of Flight to our will and became members of the Eagle Heritage Society. 

I have been a Docent with the Museum for 15 years and have been involved in a number of museum activities including serving as chair of the Docent Leadership Council and the Docent Training Program. I enjoy sharing the stories of aviation with visitors from around the world and seeing the faces of young and old light up with fascination. One of my favorite areas of interest in the Museum is the Personal Courage Wing.

Marji and I believe there is no more fitting legacy than helping perpetuate the Museum of Flight experience for generations to come. We appreciate the way the Museum is preserving the history of flight, keeping the memories of our heroes alive and inspiring future innovators. 

Every year the Museum presents amazing programs and acquires important artifacts to stay current in this fascinating and ever-evolving field. 

We know that when our money is given to the Museum it will be used to inspire future generations and keep the dream of flight alive.

Aviation Is My Heritage

By Peter N. Jansen Jr.
P JansenMy father, Peter Jansen Sr., was an aviation pioneer, head of the manufacturing team for the Curtiss NC-4, the first plane to cross the Atlantic in 1919. He began building Curtiss Jennys in 1917 and retired from Curtiss-Wright after 30 years. He ended his career at Boeing in 1969. 

I followed in the family tradition and worked at Boeing for 35 years in engineering operations, marketing, planning and procurement. I was involved in the defense and space group that developed the B-52, AWACS, SRAM, Peace Keeper, Peace Shield and Minute Man. I worked with space projects Dynasoar and Saturn, the launch vehicle for Apollo. 

In 1992, I retired and began my "second career" as a docent with The Museum of Flight. You can find me at the museum on Wednesday afternoons, talking with visitors and leading tours. 

I have included the museum in my estate planning and I'm a member of the  Eagle Heritage Society. A charitable gift annuity with the museum provides me with payments for life and supports my charitable goals, too. I believe strongly that a healthy endowment is the museum's foundation, the base on which the future of the museum will grow. 

I like knowing that my endowment gifts will help provide parts and tools for the museum's restoration projects and give shelter to the volunteers and their work. I'm proud to be part of The Museum of Flight's future, telling the history of flight for generations to come. After all, aviation is part of my heritage. 

I hope others will join me in supporting The Museum of Flight in perpetuity.

Celebrating a Lifetime of Aeronautics With a Gift

Dr. Ulf and Inger Goranson

Dr. Ulf and Inger Goranson

When T.A. Wilson, president of The Boeing Company, called on his managers to help support The Museum of Flight's building project in 1984, Dr. Ulf Goranson gladly pitched in. Today, Ulf and his wife, Inger, have remained strong supporters of The Museum of Flight and have included the organization in their will.

They had married in Stockholm, Sweden, where Ulf earned a Masters of Science in aeronautical engineering. He also received his doctorate at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, addressing cyclic load temperature effects on structural fatigue.

A talented linguist, Inger graduated from Paris-Sorbonne University and the University of Stockholm. She worked with international corporations as a correspondent in Swedish, English, German and French.

The Goransons moved to the U.S. in 1967 with their young children, Peter and Marie, and in1973, each member of the family became a U.S. citizen.

Ulf's career at Boeing began with the Supersonic Transport Program, after which he directed efforts to develop the Damage Tolerance Rating System. This system is still used worldwide by airlines operating Boeing models 727 through 777.

Dr. Ulf Goranson has been a passionate Museum supporter since 1984.

Dr. Ulf Goranson has been a passionate Museum supporter since 1984.

Over the years, Ulf represented Boeing as chair of several joint committees that addressed airworthiness issues for new and aging jet transports. He also made presentations to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety. In 1990, Ulf was one of the first engineers appointed to Boeing Senior Technical Fellows, and was recognized for his contributions to the durability and damage tolerance technology for commercial jets. After retiring from Boeing in 2001, Ulf joined NASA's Aerospace Safety and Advisory Panel, where he worked to assess the safety of the space shuttle and the International Space Station.

It's no surprise that Ulf is partial to the Museum's Charles Simonyi Space Gallery and the Museum's Full Fuselage Trainer. The WWII exhibits in the J. Elroy McCaw Personal Courage Wing are also his favorites, along with aircrafts designed by Kelly Johnson, including the SR-71 Blackbird. Both Ulf and Inger enjoy attending Museum events and are enthusiastic about the Museum's recognition as a world-class institution.

Ulf and Inger are experienced travelers, taking many business and leisure trips during their 54 years of marriage. Ulf has been a licensed pilot since 1961, and completed ten cross-country trips in his single engine plane to the American and Canadian Arctic, Greenland, and Russia. During Ulf's career with Boeing, Inger worked part-time as a multilingual interpreter at the Seattle Tacoma International Airport and a multilingual tour director with Holland America cruises.

In addition to being Charter Members of the Museum, the Goransons joined the Eagle Heritage Society ten years ago by updating their will to include The Museum of Flight among their beneficiaries. Ulf and Inger know their planned gift will help preserve aviation history and educate a new generation of aviators and aeronautics professionals. They are proud to be part of Boeing's “dream team” that T.A. Wilson called on to expand the Museum all those years ago.

Join the Dream Team Today
Contact Sarah Szabo at 206-768-7199 or to learn more about how planned gifts can benefit you and The Museum of Flight. It would be our pleasure to help you create an impactful charitable legacy through gifts to the Museum. Visit for more information today.

Stunt Flying Wins Her Love

Mark Kirchner

Mark Kirchner in homebuilt Lancair IV-P

Mark Kirchner loved to fly and so did his fiancée, Mary Lu. On their dates, he took her stunt flying in his Timm, an open cockpit WWII trainer. It was the perfect way to win her heart.

Mary Lu and Mark were married and continued to fly together for the next 53 years.

“Airplanes have always fascinated me, but of course Mark only added to that fascination,” remembers Mary Lu.

Mark had his master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from MIT, and was an engineer at The Boeing Company. He retired in 1988 as director of engineering technology for the commercial airplane group after a 39-year career. Mark was licensed to fly airplanes, gliders and helicopters. He and nine other Boeing employees built a stunt biplane that is still flown today.

Mark Kirchner

The Kirchners in Christen Eagle II homebuilt.

Boeing took the Kirchners to Pennsylvania for seven years, and it was there that Mary Lu earned her pilot’s license and flew their Beechcraft Bonanza. She learned aerobatics—barrel roll, snap roll and loop—in a Christen Eagle biplane. She was pilot in command on their six cross-country flights from Philadelphia to Seattle.

After moving back to Seattle, both Mark and Mary Lu were active in the community. In 1987, Mark became a trustee of The Museum of Flight and was chairman of the board from 1997 to 1999. Mary Lu was a partner in an art gallery and continued to volunteer at their church. After retirement, Mark built a high-performance Lancair plane in the family’s basement and enlisted the help of friends, family and his favorite co-pilot, Mary Lu.

When asked about the Museum, Mary Lu says, “We were at the opening of the Museum and it has always been high on our list. I love the World War I airplane display, but I also love the diversity of the Museum. It covers so very much.”

The Kirchners made provisions for The Museum of Flight in their estate planning and are founding members of the Eagle Heritage Society. Although Mark passed away in 2010, Mary Lu continues their tradition of involvement with the Museum.

Her recent support of the Inspiration Begins Here! Campaign is in honor of Mark, recognizing his Boeing career on the Boeing Centennial Honor Wall. Their shared love for aviation will last forever at The Museum of Flight.


To learn more about how you can make the Museum a part of your legacy, contact Sarah Szabo at 206-768-7199 or

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