Carolinas Aviation Museum renamed to honor Captain ‘Sully’ 13 years after ‘Miracle on the Hudson’

CHARLOTTE — Carolinas Aviation Museum is getting a new name. The museum announced Friday that it will rename the museum in honor of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger ahead of the 13th anniversary of the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson.”

Captain Chesley Burnett “Sully” Sullenberger III, together with the crew of US Airways Flight 1549, incredibly landed the plane bound for Charlotte in the Hudson River on Jan. 15 after a birdstrike took the airliner down.

The Smithsonian affiliate, which is temporarily closed, plans to reopen in 2023 with a permanent exhibit honoring Sullenberger and the crew on the flight. The exhibit will include the “Miracle on the Hudson” airplane, which previously attracted more than 74,000 visitors to the museum annually.

Red Ventures CEO and crash survivor Ric Elias personally donated $1 million toward the museum’s reopening, along with a $500,000 donation from Lonely Planet, a Red Ventures brand.

“I am forever indebted to Captain Sully and the crew of US Airways Flight 1549 for my second chance at life, and, for 13 years, I have been determined to find a way to honor them,” said Elias. “Heroes are made long before the day they are called to action. This museum will serve as an enduring tribute to the preparation, courage and dedication of the captain and the entire crew.”

The donation from Elias brings funding for the museum’s Lift-Off campaign to $11 million, halfway to its goal of $25 million to revamp the museum.

The improved museum will feature a new main gallery, visitor center, plaza, and restored historic hangar, as well as dozens of aircrafts, interactive cockpits, flight simulators, and historic aviation artifacts.

The museum also plans to highlight STEM aviation and aerospace programming to promote science, technology, engineering, and math career opportunities to students.

Museum board chair Mark Oken said they are thrilled to reopen the museum with the tribute to the “Miracle on the Hudson” crew and cement Charlotte’s place in aviation history.

“With support from the city of Charlotte, Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, and generous private donors, we’re looking forward to establishing the Museum as the new premiere aviation destination of the South,” said Oken.

The museum plans to formally announce its official new name later this year. The groundbreaking is set for Sept. 27.

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