Sean D. Tucker’s Oracle Challenger III biplane will be front and center when the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum opens a general aviation gallery in 2021.
A $10 million gift from the Thomas W. Haas Foundation will make the “We All Fly” gallery and exhibit possible, museum officials announced July 26 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Tucker, who joined the press conference in his flight suit, said he was “humbled and honored” that his famous biplane, highly customized with eight ailerons and other features, will greet visitors at the gallery entrance for years to come and help inspire the next generation of aviators.
Ellen Stofan, the museum’s director, said the gallery will feature a range of GA exhibits and missions, including aerobatics, humanitarian relief, business aviation, personal flying, and unmanned aircraft—all aspects of aviation that create opportunities for rewarding careers.
“Inspiring the next generation of general aviation is the mission of one of our most exciting new galleries,” Stofan said. The We All Fly gallery will be the first new gallery built in 40 years, and part of a seven-year transformation of the museum halls and exhibits, Stofan said.
Curator of General Aviation Dorothy Cochrane said celebrating innovation and inclusion is also among the primary goals.
“I hope that it will bring a sense of belonging to everyone who is already in the industry. And the goal, of course, is to broaden the industry and bring in more people,” Cochrane said. “When they come into that gallery, when they leave, they’re going to understand how general aviation touches their life every day.”
Turning to Tucker, Cochrane added: “I’m so delighted to have your airplane. It really means so much.”
Tucker spent several minutes posing for photographs with museum staff, media, and just about anyone else who wanted a selfie with one of aviation’s master showmen, explaining the details of what makes the biplane a truly special, and capable, machine.