September 6, 2004
A museum featuring World War II fighter aircraft has been grounded in Scottsdale.
Plans for the International Fighter Pilots Museum near Scottsdale Airport were withdrawn earlier this summer because of lack of funding, museum director Don Owens said.
"We couldn’t get the money to buy the airplanes," Owens said. "I wish it would have gone through because it would have been a good addition to Scottsdale."
The museum, slated for the southeast corner of Thunderbird and Redfield roads, was expected to attract more than 200,000 visitors annually.
Plans also called for the museum to offer student curriculum and corporate training opportunities.
The Tucson-based Arizona Aerospace Foundation attempted to raise $6 million to construct a 100,000-squarefoot building and acquire aircraft and memorabilia.
However, the foundation was able to raise only about $2 million.
Those funds, Owens said, will go to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, along with a P-47 Thunderbolt already acquired by the defunct museum.
Organizers had planned on displaying 25 historic aircraft, profiles of Valley fighter aces and a detailed exhibit of Thunderbird II, the Army Air Corps training base that evolved into the city’s airport.
"I’m really disappointed," said Ralph Desimone, a private pilot based in Scottsdale and a World War II buff. "I know a lot of people were looking forward to having it here."
The fate of the museum looked grim in October when Owens told the Scottsdale Airport Advisory Commission that there was a fund-raising problem.
Owens told the commission that the Arizona Aerospace Foundation and International Fighter Pilots Museum were raising funds for the museum, but couldn’t agree on how to divide the money.
Scottsdale was chosen for the museum, Owens said, because of the city’s history with the World War II training base.
"There is a lot of history here. More than 140,000 pilots were trained here during World War II," he said.