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Nonprofit Honors Buckeye Aerospace Heritage

Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame Raises Roof

The Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Learning Center (OAS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit about the noble work of connecting students, scholars, and visitors of any and all bents with the achievements of Ohioan aerospace pioneers the likes of the Wright Brothers, Eddie Rickenbacker, John Glenn, and Neil Armstrong—to name a few.

The organization will presently set about the arduous but joyful work of renovating the historic Port Columbus terminal and tower into its new home. The work will be funded in part by a $275,000 grant from the City of Columbus. From the time of its 1929 construction until 1958, the 13,000-square-foot, Art Deco structure and adjacent tower served as the terminal and control-tower for Port Columbus—now John Glenn International Airport.

Despite being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the terminal and tower were converted into business offices in 1984. Corporate monotony proved inconsistent with the terminal’s destiny, however, and its tenure as an office building ended with the departure of its last commercial tenants in the early 1990s—after which the stately structure sat vacant.

Not content to see so storied a piece of Columbus’s history left to rot, a local group raised funds to stabilize the terminal’s architecture and, in 2016, provisioned the landmark with a new roof. In 2018, the Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Learning Center secured a State of Ohio grant in the amount of $550,000, which it put toward renovating the terminal with an eye toward leasing the facility long-term from the Columbus Regional Port Authority.

Converting the vacant terminal into a civic showpiece featuring a public exhibition-hall, education center, observation deck, and event space is estimated to require another $4-million—after which the OAS continues to diligently campaign. Fortuitously, Columbus-based NetJets and Flight Safety International have each sponsored aspects of the project, and agreed to partner on workforce development initiatives.  

In addition to literally and metaphorically getting its house in order, OAS has a Memorandum of Understanding with The Ohio State University’s Center for Aviation Studies to co-develop Aviation Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (AvSTEAM) curricula for high school students, and collaborate on public education outreach programs across the Buckeye State. OAS officials expect to similarly engage the engineering and aeronautics departments of additional Ohio universities and community colleges.

OAS executive director Ron Kaplan remarked: “The OAS Board of Trustees, our generous supporters, and I want to thank the Mayor and Columbus City Council for this significant and most timely support. We are dedicated to transforming this historic, grand landmark to honor our city and state’s rich aviation heritage …”

Columbus City Councilmember Emmanuel V. Remy added: “Renovating the 1929 Port Columbus Air Terminal restores a valuable piece of our history while also bringing The Ohio Air and Space Hall of Fame and Learning Center to the great city of Columbus.”



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