Delta Flight Museum
|Location||1060 Delta Boulevard, Atlanta, GA 30354-1989|
The Delta Flight Museum is an aviation and corporate museum located in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, near the airline's main hub at the Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The museum is housed in two 1940s-era Delta Air Lines maintenance hangars, which were used until the 1960s when the Delta Technical Operations Center, formerly known as the Jet Base, was completed. The museum is a nonprofit organization and relies on volunteers, donations, special event rentals and Museum Store sales. The Delta Museum is considered an ongoing project and it collects various items year round.
The museum opened to the general public in June 2014. Prior to that, Delta employee ID or prior arrangement was required to access the campus in which the museum is located.
The idea for a museum about Delta Air Lines originated with group of retirees who started a campaign in 1990 to find one of Delta's original five purchased-new Douglas DC-3's from the early 1940s. After some searching, the employees struck gold when they found Delta Ship 41, Delta's first DC-3 to carry passengers, in Puerto Rico performing cargo services. The group bought the plane from the cargo airline and the Delta Air Transport Heritage Museum was started. From 1995 to October 8, 1999, the plane was painstakingly restored to its exact original configuration & appearance when it was first delivered to Delta back in 1940 by active and retired Delta mechanics. Delta Ship 41 is by far one of the most faithfully restored passenger transport DC-3's in the world, evidenced by the fact that in 2001, it was the first aircraft to be presented with an award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Delta Ship 41 is the only remaining Delta passenger Douglas DC-3 left in existence. Delta Air Lines is the only major air carrier known to still possess its first new passenger carrying DC-3.
On May 23, 1995, the Delta Air Transport Heritage Museum was incorporated under Georgia law as an independent nonprofit corporation, organized exclusively for public charitable uses and purposes and qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Historic Hangar 1
In Hangar One is the Monroe Cafe, a full-scale replica of Delta's former Monroe, Louisiana headquarters. It served as Delta's headquarters from 1934 to 1941, when headquarters were moved to Atlanta. The "hub" of Hangar One is the Delta Archives. It houses more than 200,000 images, 1,000 films, one of the world's largest airline uniform collections, as well as an aviation reference library.
Hangar 1 also houses several of the museum's restored aircraft, which include:
- Delta Ship 41, Delta's first passenger DC-3 and the museum's most prized piece.
- A 1931 Travel Air 6000, symbolizing the airline's first passenger aircraft.
- A Huff-Daland Duster biplane replica, representing the first aircraft operated by Delta's predecessor.
- A 1936 Stinson Reliant SE. Nicknamed the "Gull Wing," this unique aircraft served as an instrument trainer for Northeast Airlines pilots in 1941–1942.
Historic Hangar 2
Hangar 2 houses Delta Ship 102 (N102DA), The Spirit of Delta. Acquired in 1982, it was the company's first Boeing 767-200. It was paid for "by voluntary contributions from employees, retirees and Delta's community partners." The effort, called Project 767, was spearheaded by three Delta flight attendants to show the employees' appreciation to Delta for "solid management and strong leadership during the first years following airline deregulation." The aircraft was repainted in a commemorative paint scheme and toured the country to celebrate the airline's 75th anniversary in 2004. The airplane remained the flagship of the Delta fleet until March 2006 (it was later replaced with a Boeing 777-200LR named The Delta Spirit). The aircraft arrived at the museum on March 3, 2006 after a farewell tour around the United States. Additional exhibit items in Hangar 2 include the forward fuselage of the prototype Lockheed L-1011 (formerly home to the museum store), the cockpit section of a Convair 880, the tail section of a Douglas DC-9, and a Boeing 737 flight simulator, in which brief rides are sold to the public during some special events.
The museum's collection also includes three other aircraft which are parked outdoors around the edges of the museum parking lot: a Boeing 757-200 registered N608DA (ship no. 608, manufactured in 1985), a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 registered N675MC (ship no. 9880, built in 1975), and first ever produced Boeing 747-400 registered N661US (ship no. 6301).
Delta Ship 6301 and the 747 Experience
The most significant aircraft in the outdoor collection is Delta Ship 6301 (N661US), the first production Boeing 747-400. Originally used for flight testing by Boeing as N401PW, N661US was delivered to Northwest Airlines on January 26, 1989.
When Northwest merged with Delta in 2009, N661US became Delta Ship 6301 and continued passenger operations for Delta until it was retired on September 9, 2015, having logged more than 61 million miles of flight over its lifetime. Ship 6301's significance, both as an individual aircraft and to Delta meant that it was quickly acquired by the museum after it was retired.
The following April, the jumbo jet was moved across two streets from a parking spot on the tarmac at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to its permanent home in the museum parking lot.
Delta employees conducted a funding campaign called "The Airloom Project" with the aim of converting Ship 6301 and the parking lot surrounding it into an outdoor exhibit similar to The Spirit of Delta inside. Much like in the Spirit of Delta, museum visitors enter the 747-400 via stairs and an elevator, proceed through the intact first class cabin, then through the economy section, part of which has been converted into an exhibition space, where the aft pressure bulkhead is visible. Visitors are also able to walk on a walkway that runs over part of the wing, protected by railings. In addition, the cargo hold has been emptied and the cabin ceiling removed so that visitors can look down from the upper deck through the lower deck and cargo hold to see the entirety of the aircraft's massive cross-section.
Collections, exhibitions, and facilities
The Museum's collections and facilities include:
- The Spirit of Delta, Delta’s first Boeing 767-200, which was bought by employees, retirees, and friends and was donated to Delta in 1982. The rear segment of the aircraft has been converted into exhibition space and houses two exhibitions, while the cockpit, galley, and first class section remain intact.
- "Ship 41," the first DC-3 to carry Delta passengers, which was restored by volunteers and a core mechanic team from 1993–1999, after being found in Puerto Rico flying for Air Puerto Rico. In 2001, Ship 41 became the first aircraft to be presented an award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
- A 1931 Travel Air, representing Delta's first passenger aircraft.
- A 1936 Stinson Reliant SE. Nicknamed the “Gull Wing,” this unique aircraft served as an instrument trainer for Northeast Airlines pilots in 1941–1942.
- Professionally-managed archives of artifacts related to Delta and its ancestor airlines. The Archives maintains over 200,000 images, 1,000 films, and one of the world's largest airline uniform collections in a museum.
- An aviation reference library.
- Various temporary exhibits.
- A McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50, N675MC.
- Replica of the first Delta station in Monroe, Louisiana.
- The forward fuselage of the first Lockheed L-1011 built. Delta at one time operated almost 60 of the type, although the museum's example was not among them.
- Delta Ship 6301 (N661US). Retired on September 9, 2015 after serving since December 8, 1989 with Northwest Airlines, this aircraft was the first Boeing 747-400 ever built. It was the plane that was involved in an incident in 2002, operating as Northwest Airlines Flight 85.
- A Boeing 757-200, N608DA.
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- Kruse, Brian (2016-05-02). "Retired 747-400 takes road trip home to Flight Museum". Delta News Hub. Delta Air Lines, Inc. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
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- Delta Flight Museum adds a Douglas DC-9-51 and a Boeing 757-200 WorldAirlineNews.com; accessed May 9, 2016