In 1963, George Haddaway, a noted aviation historian and the publisher of “Flight” magazine, donated his enormous collection of artifacts and archival materials to The University of Texas. This “History of Aviation Collection” was moved from Austin to The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in the late 1970’s. In 1988, because of problems with public access and space limitations, UTD and Mr. Haddaway forged an agreement with a group of Dallas leaders to make possible the display of part of the collection, in particular most of the physical artifacts at an off-campus site. With the leadership of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, the late William E. “Bill” Cooper, and Jan Collmer, the Frontiers of Flight Museum was formed in 1988 as a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. The City of Dallas agreed to provide space on the mezzanine level of the main terminal building at Love Field. With donations from corporations, individuals, and foundations, exhibits over 5,500 square feet were made available to the public in June 1990. For several years the museum also sponsored popular air shows at Dallas Love Field, but these were discontinued in the early 2000’s as traffic increased at Love Field.
The public’s enthusiasm for the Museum and its desire to see more aircraft close-up, along with the increasing attendance, prompted the leadership to embark on an ambitious plan to build the Museum that stands today. A State Transportation Enhancement grant of $7.2 million, along with required matching private gifts of over $2 million enabled construction of the 100,000 square foot Museum, and the new facility opened in June 2004.
Currently, over 30 aircraft and extensive display galleries draw aviation buffs, schools, family members to the museum. Popular collections include early biplanes, historically important military and general aviation aircraft, the World War II exhibit, the extensive history of Southwest Airlines exhibit area, numerous commercial airline artifacts, the iconic Chance Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” and the Apollo 7 command module. Visitors can take a chronological walk through the development of human flight from the Leonardo da Vinci parachute to space exploration.
Military, commercial, and general aviation as well as space flight are represented at the Museum. The Museum’s working relationship with the History of Aviation Collection at UTD allows access to UTD’s world-renowned aviation collections. As an official affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the Frontiers of Flight Museum is able to draw major traveling exhibitions.