Airline History Museum
Kansas City, MO
Signature Flight Support doesn’t want us here.
As most of you know, we’re fighting for the future of the museum; the collection and the airplanes are in jeopardy. After decades at the Charles B. Wheeler Downtown Airport, we’re locked out of our museum. With padlocks. Our irreplaceable planes have been sitting unguarded and unmaintained since July of last year.
- How did a this happen?
- How can you help?
As with all things legal, it’s a chore to plow through the documents. Those will be posted below for those of you with a stomach for it. For everyone else, here’s the condensed scoop:
Executive Beechcraft sold out to the Signature Aviation in 2006. They were a British owned company at the time and recently sold to an investment group and are now owned by Blackstone, a huge international corporation. They soon started looking for ways to get us ejected from our home, undoubtably to take over operation of Hanger 9 and increase the revenue generated by their new acquisition, renting out space to larger aircraft.
NOTE: ALL of the buildings at Downtown Airport are owned by the City of Kansas City. Businesses operating at the field do so via agreements with the City itself. These take the form of long-term leases, approved by the governing body, the City Council. The sublease of Hanger 9 to AHM, is spelled out in the Master Lease Agreement, dated 2005 (see below). In 2009 the City Council made a 2nd Amendment to this Master Lease, allowing AHM use Hanger 9 rent-free through 2035 (City Ordinance 090370). Both Signature and the City agreed to this, and Signature received financial benefits from the City for allowing the Museum to remain in Hangar 9.
Looking for a way to circumvent the 2005 Master Lease, Signature’s lawyers cited a sublease written in 2000, asserting it took precedent over the more recent 2005 agreement. To everyone’s considerable shock, a district court ruled in Signature’s favor. AHM immediately filed an appeal, which goes in front of the Missouri Court of Appeals soon. We hope this to occur by May of this year.
Remember, the City Council controls the leases at Downtown Airport. The City has supported the museum and its mission over the years. However, the City has, for whatever reason, chosen to stay silent and let this land grab occur.
The RenegadeAV8R Show Podcast
S3 EP3 - Airline History Museum - Under Assault
Photos Showing Hangar Neglect
WHAT KANSAS CITY MAY LOSE
Ask yourself…what would Kansas City be like without:
- Union Station?
- The World War I Museum?
- The Negro Leagues Museum?
- The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts?
We could go on, but only in Kansas City do we have one of the World’s Best Airline Museums. CNN rated the KC’s Airline History Museum in the Top Ten of the country’s very best places to go learn, see, and experience airline travel as it used to be.
In fact, we are the only museum in the world to have a Lockheed Constellation in full passenger configuration; you can walk through it, along with other one-of-a-kind propeller-driven passenger airliners. AHM has been around for about 30 years, and it is the perfect place to pay tribute to the long legacy of TWA in Kansas City. That pioneering airline was one of our largest employers, making an indelible mark on the city and on commercial aviation.
Are we going to sit back and let corporate interests and City Council apathy close down this iconic, shining jewel of a facility? Think about the impact the loss of AHM will mean to not just local people, but to tourism. We’d be removing a huge contributor to the city’s popularity as a place to visit, hold conventions, and attract publicity on an international scale? WHY would anyone DO that?
No surprise here: to quote Hollywood, “follow the money.” An out-of-town corporation, Signature Aviation, wants to control all the hangars at Charles B Wheeler Downtown Airport so they can make money. Period. They’ve drummed up some story that we owe them rent. NOT SO. Here’s the proof:
Curiously, the City Council has turned a blind eye towards this land grab, but they OWN the buildings at the airport and have it within their power to tell Signature to stand down and honor the legal agreements made between the City and AHM allowing us free rent through 2035.
So, if you support our efforts, get on board. The plane is leaving the gate and we need to let the City Council know this has got to stop. Check out the documents and contact info for the decisions makers posted on this page and act now! Don’t let this iconic museum become the one that got away from Kansas City!"
Past AHM Events
Here’s where You get involved.
We plan to schedule a meeting with the City Council (who has not responded to any of our inquiries about this) and spell out why they must honor the 2005 Master lease, City Ordinance 090370, and the 2nd Amendment created by that ordinance. The City must also comply with Ordinance 140438, and appoint appropriate city personnel to the Board of Directors to help resolve these conflicts. Whatever happens in the courts is not an issue, simply enforcing the 2005 Master Lease Agreement, will force Signature to allow the Museum to operate without interference. Signature has no rights to the building. Period. We’ll win the lawsuit as well, just to right this wrong completely.
Simply winning the lawsuit is not enough. We need the Mayor and the city council to understand the gross injustice and what is really happening at their airport. We need you to write to the City Council members, copying the KC, MO Mayor Quentin Lucas. We’re including a form letter on this page for you to download and use as a template to write into the City Council.
We’ve done some serious digging on this, as you can imagine. If you want to really assist in this worthy effort, here’s ALL the documentation associated with this mess along with some explanatory videos and a great podcast with our President explaining this injustice.
Read it and shake your head in disgust. THEN help us right this wrong and return the Museum to where it belongs; in Hanger 9.
Please help support our expenses as we continue to fight Signature!
Save A Connie, Inc, dba Airline History Museum is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and your donation may be tax deductible, please contact your accountant for more details.
Other Downloadable Documents
Keep an Eye on What's Happening at the Museum
Yes. That sublease was terminated by the 2005 Master Lease. Based upon even a cursory read through of the 2005 Master Lease,
“WHEREAS, City and Lessee desire to cancel the Prior Leases and provide this new Lease to govern the lease of premises at the Airport and the terms and conditions thereof”
This is not true. Signature, with the help of a certain City Council Person tried to create a loophole to let Signature appear to charge rent. That verbiage was changed after we filed our lawsuit against Signature, which is suspicious in itself.
We do not feel that the City Council would approve an amendment to shut down the museum. The reality is, City Ordinance 090370 and the 2nd Amendment to the 2005 Master Lease remain in full force. This means our rent remains abated in full.
It’s a matter of cost. The phone is very expensive on a monthly basis. We do have the phone number reserved. We are looking at some VoIP options to allow us to answer the phone remotely and get the service restored.
During a storm in December of 2021, the hangar was damaged along with several others. The high winds ripped the roof off of Hangar 2 in the other side of the airport.
Representatives of the museum met with Signature and contractors in the early spring of 2022 to coordinate repairs. The museum was informed by the airport management that Signature would be responsible and repairs covered by their insurance.
Signature never executed the repairs and the City never forced them to take action. Airport Management never gave the museum permission to make repairs either. Signature di finally make temporary repairs in early 2023, but those repairs are patchwork with inappropriate materials. They look terrible and several repairs have not been addresses yet.
Paragraph 2.5 clearly names the Airline History Museum as an occupant.
“Sec. 2.5. Airline Museum. As identified at Parcel D and set forth in Exhibit "B", the Hangar leased to the Airline Museum shall be leased to Lessee at the reduced ground (improved and unimproved) and building rental rates set forth in Exhibit "B" for as long as it remains a non-profit airline museum. The Rent for the Airline Museum shall be adjusted annually as set forth in Sec. 2.2. Adjustments to Rent above.”
Put simply, the rent is zero. There is no rent to pay. The 2nd amendment put in place by city ordinance stipulates:
“NOW, THEREFORE, in consideration of the Premises, conditions, terms, and mutual covenants herein contained, City and Concessionaire agree for themselves, their successors and assigns as follows:
That Exhibit "B", Parcel D-2, is amended to reflect $0.00 annual Building and Ground Rent so long as Parcel D-2 is a non-profit Airline History Museum as authorized by the Federal Registry.”