Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum Update April 2023

Dear Friends & Valued Supporters of the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum,
Paraphrasing Theodore Roosevelt: Nothing in this world is worth having or worth doing unless it’s difficult and takes effort. Regarding the relocation of the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum (FLAM), no truer words have been spoken! I am very pleased to let you know that positive progress continues to be made.
The transportation and re-establishment of an entire museum collection – aircraft and numerous other artifacts is, to say the least, difficult, requiring a herculean effort. The Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation (FLHF) Board, volunteers, supporters, and partners are committed to returning the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum to its original home at Great Park, the former MCAS El Toro. In typical Marine Corps fashion, the Foundation and Museum team have met every challenge and are ready to put the MOUs and agreements into action. The City of Irvine has recently approved a draft transportation and storage lease agreement which funds the relocation of the museum collection to Great Park. The FLHF and City staff are finalizing the agreement and hope to begin preparation, disassembly, and crating of the Museum’s aircraft collection by mid-summer. The collection will be stored, and maintenance and conservation operations established in hangar 297, the former “Raider County” hangar at El Toro. We are also finalizing discussions with a transportation firm that specializes in the movement and transportation of aircraft. These developments are a significant step forward in our endeavor.
Our next step will be to formalize an agreement with the City of Irvine for the erection of an interim museum facility in a portion of the Cultural Terrace where the original planned facility, hangar 296, is located. The City was unable to move forward with the restoration of hangar 296 but was committed to relocating the Museum to Great Park and came up with an alternative. The City will be making a $20 million dollar capital investment toward the interim museum facility in an adjacent parcel of land in the Cultural Terrace called Cultural Terrace West. This parcel is located approximately 300 yards from storage/restoration hangar 297. Work on the site has already begun with the publication of a Request for Proposal for site preparation, the prep work will take approximately 18-24 months. During this time period we will be performing aircraft restoration on 30 or so aircraft requiring varying levels of care and restoration. Most of the aircraft collection requires repairs for minor corrosion as they have been exposed to the elements for over 20 years. Some painting and canopy attention is needed as well. All the aircraft need a good, thorough washing!
Our design firm, Siteline Productions, Inc., has provided complete architectural and design plans for the interim facility. It will be a world class museum facility we can all be proud of. Although smaller in size than hangar 296, the facility will house most of the aircraft collection and allow for a reduced number of planned exhibits. We already have plans for expansion and will continue to have discussions with the City for the eventual restoration and occupancy of either hangar 296 or 297 as the FLAM’s permanent museum. Your continual support is critical for us to move forward. We will shortly kick off our mid-year appeal, but there’s no need to wait. Just visit our website at to make an online donation. By the way, also keep an eye out for our new website scheduled to go live in the next month.
The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum helps strengthen America by preserving the aviation history of the U.S. Marine Corps, honoring those that served, and inspiring an appreciation of America’s freedoms and values in all generations.
Thank you and Semper Fi,
M. J. Aguilar
Brigadier General, USMC (Retired)
President/ CEO
Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation
Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum

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