A bright day for American aviation history: Delta Air Lines celebrated the grand opening of the new Delta Flight Museum, a 68,000 square-foot facility located at the airline's world headquarters in Atlanta. The museum traces Delta's history and the development of commercial aviation. The grand opening event marked Delta's 85th anniversary of passenger service, dating back to its first passenger flight from Dallas to Jackson, Miss., on June 17, 1929.
Delta flight museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is housed in the airline's two original maintenance hangars dating from the 1940s. After a significant renovation to the historic buildings funded by the Delta Air Lines Foundation and other sponsors, the museum is now open to the general public. The museum was designated a Historic Aerospace Site in 2011.
"This museum is a testament to the rich history and unique culture of Delta, which has always been deeply rooted in our people," said Richard Anderson, Delta's chief executive officer. "The museum also commemorates Delta's contributions to passenger aviation, which influences economic growth and development and fosters greater understanding across cultures. We are proud to welcome the world to the Delta Flight Museum as we celebrate our 85th anniversary of passenger service."
This incredible place contains displays and exhibits filled with hundreds of artifacts, many of which have never been on public display. They chronicle more than eight decades of Delta history and the growth and development of commercial aviation. The museum houses a permanent collection of five historic aircraft, including a Travel Air 6B Sedan similar to the one that operated Delta's first passenger flight in 1929, and The Spirit of Delta, a Boeing 767 purchased for the company by employees in 1982. Also on display is a DC-3, Ship 41, that flew for Delta and was restored by Delta employees and volunteers.
"For decades, Delta Air Lines has served as a major economic engine for our state," said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who spoke at Tuesday's grand opening celebration. "It's an honor to be here today, both to showcase the rich history of commercial aviation in Georgia and to honor the thousands of people who have worked to make Delta one of the world's most successful airlines."
"The opening of the new Delta Flight Museum represents the addition of a world-class facility that honors and celebrates our city's longstanding and historic partnership with Delta," said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who also spoke at the event. "We are delighted to celebrate Delta's 85th anniversary of passenger service and look forward to building on a relationship that solidifies our city's position as the business and cultural center of the South through global engagement and international commerce."
Among other planes and items, the museum features a 117-seat theater and a 30-seat conference room located inside the fuselage of an L-1011 TriStar aircraft. Also on display is the cockpit of a Convair 880 jet. Additionally, visitors can have the ultimate aviation experience and pilot a Boeing 737-200 full-motion simulator, the only one open to the public in the U.S., formerly used to train Delta pilots.
The museum tour starts with Delta's beginnings as a crop-dusting operation in the rural South and takes visitors through the early propeller era of passenger service and into the jet age.
All visitors have the opportunity to explore the museum at their own pace through a self-guided tour, though guided tours are available as well. Special interactive features, including a pilot pre-flight checklist for a Boeing 767 as well as a scavenger hunt, engage children touring the museum. There is also a retail store with hundreds of Delta- and aviation-related items for sale, including aircraft models, clothing and accessories.
Importantly, the hangar space also serves as a unique public and private rental venue to host meetings, conferences and other events with state-of-the-art audio and video capability and full catering services that can accommodate a seated dinner for as many as 1,200.
Delta Flight Museum sponsors include the Delta Air Lines Foundation, American Express, Airbus, the New York Yankees, ST Aerospace and Aero BridgeWorks. The full list of sponsors is available at the museum's website.