Jan 12, 2023 - Culture

Charlotte museum unveils new name for famed Captain Sully

Rendering courtesy of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum

Don’t call it the Carolinas Aviation Museum. It’s the Sullenberger Aviation Museum now.

Driving the news: On Thursday, the 31-year-old Charlotte museum unveiled its new name, which honors Capt. C.B. “Sully” Sullenberger. 

  • Sullenberger said he never thought he’d have a museum named after him, and certainly not while he’s still alive.

Why it matters: 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.

  • “We are the national stewards of that American story,” museum president Stephen Saucier tells Axios.

Details: The new facility broke ground in September 2022 and the first of two phases is scheduled to open by the end of 2023. The vertical build will begin this month, Saucier tells Axios. 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 two galleries (Aviation City Gallery and Innovation National Gallery), lab space, 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.

By the numbers: The museum has raised nearly $29 million of its $31 million goal, Saucier tells Axios.

  • Of note: 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.

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
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