Delta Heritage Museum To Undergo Major Renovations

By Nick – Random Segments

Airline museums always provide some interesting experiences for the aviation geek to see old products and unique twists for the given airline providing the museum.  American has a museum on their campus at DFW, and Delta has theirs located at their corporate headquarters at ATL.  The museum is located in two hangers, the first built in 1941 and the second in 1947.  The hangers themselves are relatively unchanged since the airline moved technical operations to the east side of the airport.  That is about to change however.  

The museum is about to undergo a substantial overhaul, as a part of their goal to make the museum more of an attraction to employees and retirees, as well as expanding their target audience to school groups, and holding major events for Delta and the metro Atlanta community.  I was at a function where some of these plans are being detailed, as well as the timeline.

Right now the hangers are brown and pretty unremarkable.  However, they are going to be restored to white and the project is actually a restoration of the hangers to the original exterior design from when they were built.  As for flooring, hanger 1 will just have the concrete smoothed out, and polished to retain the distinctive markings caused by the installation of reinforced concrete to handle the increased weight that jets had over the propeller planes.  They are also adding a welcom theater which will play movies, and the seating in the theater are going to be the old BusinessElite seats that are being removed as the planes are being configured to lie flat.  They are relocating the facade of their first headquarters to serve as the entrance to the theater.

Hanger 2 is getting a major overhaul.  The floor is being redone to remove all of the tracking on the floor, and will be carpeted so as to improve acoustics.  In addition to being a part of the museum, this is the hanger that is going to be used to host events.  A catering kitchen is being installed to service these new functions.  In addition, above the catering kitchen will be a mezanine with both stair and elevator access.  The mezanine will then be the new entry point to The Spirit of Delta, conneccted via a jet bridge which is being removed from concourse T in ATL as a part of the airline’s renovation project at the airport. This will finally allow for The Spirit of Delta to be handicapped accessible (right now it is a stair truck that provides access).

Other updates for hanger 2 will be the installation of a full Convair 880 cockpit, and they are looking at also installing an old plane simulator (the possibility was mentioned that it may be a DC-9).  A new gift shop will be built in hanger 2, and the old facility (currently the fuselage of the first L-1011) will be relocated to the mezanine and used as a customer test experience center so they can bring customers in and show off potential new products.

This is a major project, and the timeline is quite ambitious.  Some pre-work has already begun.  Space is being cleared and configured for the new museum offices.  The official groundbreaking will be May 18 as a part of an internal employee celebration day.  This will be when Hanger 2 and The Spirit of Delta will close.  Hanger 1 will still be open until October, and both will reopen in April 2014 as a part of the new Delta Heritage Museum.  They are also working to improve access to the facility by possibly using a different entrance gate at the delta campus, which would have a historical Delta plane on the outside.  

I am currently working to go through the pictures I took from my visit yesterday, and hope to get them posted, but with this detailed information, I wanted to get the renovation plans and schedule out there so if anybody wants to get to the muesum before they start major closings they have the opportunity to do so.  To schedule a visit, you will have to call the gift shop at the Delta Heritage Museum at (404)773-1219 to get security credentials to be admitted at the gate of the Delta World Headquarters.  The Spirit of Delta and their DC-3 have special hours which are on the website.