In 1982 a group of aviation enthusiasts, most of whom were retired Air Force members, established the Travis Air Force Base Historical Society, a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, for the purpose of creating an air museum on base.
Parade celebrating the 61st Doolittle Raiders Reunion in Fairfield, CA.
The following year, the Travis Air Museum was established with the approval of the Secretary of the Air Force and Public Affairs, albeit with no facility.
The mission of the Museum was to help preserve the heritage of the Air Force, in particular with respect to the history of Travis AFB and airlift in the Pacific.
The Society then began a vigorous campaign to obtain aircraft and other artifacts for the museum.
In 1986 the old commissary on base was vacated and became available to help house these artifacts. In 1987 it officially became the Travis Air Museum.
Since then, the collection has continued to grow. It now has 33 aircraft, one of the largest collections of military aircraft in northern California, plus several hundred other accessioned artifacts, support items, documents and photographs.
The building is aging and, of course, was not designed as a museum. Furthermore, it has reached full capacity. It is also in a very problematic location with respect to base security. Prior to September, 11, 2001, approximately 60,000 visitors per year came to the museum. Subsequently, however, that number dropped dramatically because of heightened security at the base.
Then Brig. General Thomas P. Kane, Commander 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, organized a ground-breaking ceremony for the new Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum near the Travis Air Force Base David Grand Hospital entrance.
Meanwhile, in 1999, with the backing of the Wing and the Society, a museum working group was created to explore the feasibility of building a new state-of-the art museum at a convenient site on the edge of the base. There it could be fenced off from the rest of the facility and have direct public access. It was determined that such a facility was not only necessary but would also be in the best interests of both the Air Force and the local community. Furthermore, the Society changed its name to the Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum Foundation and plans to name the future museum the Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum.
Afterwards a new site was identified, some 16 acres, near the hospital gate. But after September 11, security changes on base, and other considerations, resulted in a search for another base site. Several possible sites were examined. Many factors are at work in this long process: economic, legal, environmental, and political. Currently, the foundation is looking for a suitable site off Base for the future location of the museum.
An architectural model of one possible vision for a new museum building.
Guidance and advice on the challenges of building a new museum have been obtained from many sources, in particular the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, the Strategic Air Command Museum in Omaha, and the Museum of Flight in Seattle. A preliminary feasibility study has been done. An architectural model of one possible vision has been prepared. Support has been forthcoming from all local civic, business, and educational leaders. Little by little the ground work is being laid for a new museum. The current critical issue, however, is obtaining the land on which to build it. Once a site has been secured a full-scale fundraising campaign can be launched.
The goal of the foundation is to build an air and space museum for all ages. It will be much more than a traditional museum. It will also be an informal science and education center, conference and convention center, and a major tourist destination for all of northern California.
Estimates of the cost of a facility of this magnitude run as high as $40 million, all of which must come from private or local government sources, not from the Air Force or Federal Government.
This is where your help will be critical. This must be a community effort in the widest possible sense. We ask you to help spread the word and, we hope, the enthusiasm for this project. Please contact the Doolittle Foundation for additional information.