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Aviation museum ready to take flight in Gulfport

The Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum finally has a home.

The Sun Herald reports the Gulfport City Council has agreed to a lease a former furniture store building to the John C. Robinson Brown Condor Association. The association is named for a Gulfport native who was at one time the most famous black aviator in the world and father of the famed Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.

“It’s a great building – open spaces,” architect Frank Genzer of Biloxi said Monday. “Obviously, it’s been empty for awhile and there needs to be some work on it, predominantly roofing and air conditioning … but the building is great. Finally, after all these years, it can really be another museum that will be an asset to the Coast.”

Now begins the work of repairs and fund-raising, but museum enthusiasts say they have a big community of pilots from which to draw for assistance and artifacts. Francisco Gonzalez, association board president, set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for roofing materials. The initial goal is $20,000.

“I’m planning to use social media,” Gonzalez said. “We’re going to be very modern when it comes to raising money and awareness.”

Genzer thinks the space could be the next best thing and even hopes an observation deck can be built on the roof, where views of the airport are good. The building has a two-story space front and center, which Genzer said will be ideal for displaying airplanes as long as the structure will support it.

Gonzalez said the association has $250,000 for renovations of the two-story building. A business plan that University of Southern Mississippi students developed includes an extensive list of aviation-connected companies to approach for funding, and museums that can provide advice and assistance.

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