Updated Apr 2, 2024 - Culture

Charlotte museum named for famed Captain Sully opens June 1

Rendering: Courtesy of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum

The Sullenberger Aviation Museum, formerly the Carolinas Aviation Museum, will open on June 1.

Why it matters: Capt. C.B. "Sully" Sullenberger landed Charlotte-bound US Airways Flight 1549 safely in the Hudson River on Jan. 15, 2009. The exhibit about the Miracle on the Hudson opened in 2011 and is the museum's featured exhibit.

Catch up quick: In January 2023, the 32-year-old Charlotte museum unveiled its new name honoring Sullenberger. 

  • Sullenberger said he never thought he’d have a museum named after him, and certainly not while he’s still alive.
  • “We are the national stewards of that American story,” museum president Stephen Saucier told Axios of their featured exhibit.

If you go: A limited number of tickets for the grand opening are on sale for $5 per ticket. Tickets through Labor Day are available for purchase.

  • Regular hours will be Tuesday through Saturday 10am until 4:30pm and Sunday from noon until 4:30pm. It will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
  • Tickets cost $24 for adults; $20 for seniors (age 65+), veterans, active service members and educators; $18 for ages 5 to 17; and free for members and children under 5 years old. Tickets are $3 per person after opening day for those using SNAP/EBT.

Context: The new facility broke ground in September 2022. It will be a multi-building campus — a shift from its previous one-building campus format.

  • The site serves as an airport overlook, allowing visitors to watch planes depart and land.
  • Expect exhibit space (Aviation Society gallery and Innovation Nation gallery, which will house "Miracle on the Hudson"), labs, more than 45 historic planes, flight simulators, multimedia and interactive exhibitions, plus STEM education programs.
  • Aviation City gallery will sit in a historic W.P.A. Douglas hangar, which was built in 1936-1937 by the Works Progress Administration. It will open later this fall.

By the numbers: The museum raised $34 million to build the museum. Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias was a passenger on flight 1549. He donated $1 million to the project.

  • “We all have many jobs to do, and we have to do them when no one is watching,” Elias said of his biggest lesson from his Miracle on the Hudson experience.
Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias (left) and Capt. C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger at the unveiling. Elias was a passenger on flight 1549, and he donated $1 million to the project. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

The big picture: Museum leaders expect the space to serve as an economic catalyst as well as a hub for innovation, with 120,000 visitors expected annually, plus more than 15,000 students using the space for STEM programming and career development labs.

  • 74,000 people visited the museum in 2019, the final year before it closed, CBJ reported.
  • “We are trying to reimagine what a museum can be,” Saucier told Axios.
Rendering: Courtesy of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum
Miracle on the Hudson. Rendering: Courtesy of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum
Rendering: Courtesy of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum
Rendering: Courtesy of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum
Rendering: Courtesy of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Jan. 12, 2023 and was updated on April 2, 2024 to include the opening date.

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