Walmart heir acquires Flying Heritage collection

Museum says it will remain in Everett


Last updated 8/16/2022 at 9:56am

Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum (FHCAM) in Everett on Aug. 4 announced plans for the museum’s artifacts and assets to be acquired by the Wartime History Museum, a new nonprofit started by entrepreneur and philanthropist Steuart Walton.

Walton is a Walmart billionaire in Arkansas and heir to the Walmart fortune.

According to a Flying Heritage news release, Wartime History Museum plans to reopen to the public, at its current location, within the next year. Additional details to come when plans are finalized.

As the Beacon reported in June 2020, the Paine Field museum had suspended all operations due to the COVID pandemic.

Flying Heritage, founded by the late philanthropist Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, opened in 2004 and showcases a collection of military artifacts – airplanes, tanks, and armaments – from the United States, Britain, Germany, Japan, and the former Soviet Union.

Many are restored to original flying or driving condition and emphasize authentic paint schemes and mechanical systems.

“It has been my honor and privilege to help develop and care for this amazing collection, share it with the public, and preserve and celebrate the important military history and human stories of which we are caretakers,” said Adrian Hunt, the museum’s executive director.

“I am thrilled that the museum’s mission and impact will continue under the leadership of Steuart and the Wartime History Museum. I look forward to Flying Heritage, continuing to educate and inspire the community through compelling artifacts and engaging exhibits that honor those who served their country.”

Flying Heritage continued to operate following Allen’s death in late 2018, but like many institutions, was severely affected by COVID.

Although artifact care and restoration has continued, the museum has remained closed, and its assets are now being sold consistent with Allen’s wishes, said the museum. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, and all proceeds will be earmarked for philanthropy.

“This incredible collection reminds us of the significance vintage aircraft and other historic vehicles have had on our nation and globe,” said Walton.

“On behalf of my fellow WHM board members, we hope to share these important artifacts for generations to come and unearth inspiring stories to help fuel innovation, understanding, and exploration.”

In 2018 and 2022, Walton helped bring global advanced mobility thought leaders together in northwest Arkansas to accelerate next generation flying and technology advancement.

As an experienced pilot and investor in the preservation and restoration of historic aircraft, in 2020 Walton organized a statewide flyover of WWII-era planes during the height of the pandemic in support of frontline health-care workers in Arkansas.

He co-founded Game Composites, an aerobatic airplane manufacturer, serves on the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum board and, along with his brother Tom Walton, led efforts to build Thaden Fieldhouse, the driving force behind Northwest Arkansas’ emergence as a general aviation touchstone.

“This is wonderful news that a fellow nonprofit, founded by another visionary and conscientious leader, will continue FHCAM’s mission and Paul’s vision,” said Steve Hinton, president of the Planes of Fame Air Museum and former Flying Heritage principal test pilot.

“Paul curated an amazing collection of significant aircraft and machines that tell strong and important stories that need to be remembered and celebrated.”

Edmonds Beacon Editor Brian Soergel contributed to this report.


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