About

THE SOUTHERN MUSEUM OF FLIGHT

Is one of the largest aviation museums in the Southeast, is dedicated to presenting civilian, military, and experimental aircraft and memorabilia from the earliest history of powered flight.

The 75,000 square foot facility houses over 100 aircraft, as well as engines, models, artifacts, photographs, and paintings. In addition, the Southern Museum of Flight is home to the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame with over 70 biographical plaques presenting Alabama aviation history through collective biography.

SO HOW DID WE TAKE FLIGHT?

With the approach of the centennial celebration of the city of Birmingham in the mid 1960s, a civic committee began working on projects that would tell the story of the first 100 years of the City of Birmingham. Mrs. Mary Alice Beatty, who, with her husband, Donald Beatty had been pioneers in the establishment of the first airline routes and bases in Central and South America, felt that the Aviation History of Birmingham should be included in these projects.
The Committee’s goal was to establish a regional air museum, to be called The Southeastern Museum of Aviation, and Mrs. Beatty was placed in charge of the project with $400 appropriated for expenses. Using the Beatty’s own collection of memorabilia as a basis, in 1966 she established the first displays in six display cases. Samford University offered space for the displays, which, by that time, was called The Birmingham Museum of Aviation. The displays remained at Samford for three years, during which time Mrs. Beatty was the curator. Mrs. Beatty then moved the displays to a location closer to the airport, using the main lobby of the Birmingham Airport Motel, which stood at the location of the present short-term parking deck across the street from the old terminal.
 

WE DO MORE THAN SOAR

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in 1978 at the museum’s current location, and the Southern Museum of Flight was officially opened to the public in the fall of 1983. After nearly three decades of growth and expansion, the Southern Museum of Flight is dedicated to investigating, preserving, and promoting the rich stories of Southern Aviation and to providing enjoyable, experiential educational programming for people of all ages. Through collaborative partnerships within the community, the Southern Museum of Flight provides a continuum of exhibitions, displays, and educational services with a sincere devotion to cultural and historical literacy. The Southern Museum of Flight prepares and supports skillful, reflective professionals who improve the quality of aviation education in a museum setting.
The Southern Museum of flight presents civilian, military, and experimental aircraft and memorabilia from the earliest history of powered flight. The museum houses over 100 aircraft, as well as engines, models, artifacts, and paintings. In addition, the Southern Museum of Flight is home to the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame with over 70 biographical plaques presenting Alabama aviation history through collective biography.

MEET OUR PILOTS OF THE MUSEUM

Dr. Brian J. Barsanti

Executive Director & Historian


Brian has been a part of the Southern Museum of Flight team for over ten years. He serves as a part-time faculty member at Huntingdon College, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Miles College. Brian is a graduate of a number of military training schools including the United States Army Airborne School, and he currently serves as an officer in the United States Coast Guard Reserve. He completed his undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and his education includes a graduate degree in History from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Brian also holds the Ph.D. from the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His research interests include Museums in the 21st Century, Collaborative Organizational Structures, Museums as Interdisciplinary/Educational Resources, and 20th Century Military History within Public History Settings.
O to speed where there is space enough and air enough at last! — Walt Whitman, One Hour to Madness and Joy, 1860.

Daphne Dunn

Chief of Staff & Human Resources Officer


The airplane has unveiled for us the true face of the earth. — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Wayne Novy

Director of Operations & Curator


Wayne joined the Southern Museum of Flight in 2004, after retiring from the United States Air Force. In his 22 year career, he worked avionic systems, crewed many versions of the C-135 and learned four Slavic languages. He is the only Air Force enlisted graduate of the Marine Corps Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course. Wayne has worked at a number of aviation museums, and he has maintained vintage aircraft both flying and non-flying. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, with degrees in History and Anthropology.

What do you do at the Museum? Curator
When did you join the museum team? 2004
What is your favorite part of your job? Working with artifacts and aircraft
What would people be surprised to learn about you? Lived in the Philippines as a child.
Favorite Movie? Twelve O’clock High
Favorite Restaurant? Chipotle
Describe your dream vacation? Two weeks, end of September, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
The exhilaration of flying is too keen, the pleasure too great, for it to be neglected as a sport. — Orville Wright

Zachary Edison

Restoration Manager


Zachary joined the Southern Museum of Flight part-time in June of 2011 and became a permanent member of the team in November 2011. He previously worked for Alabama Aircraft Industries as a Senior Estimator on KC-135, C-130, P-3 aircraft and H-60 helicopter depot-level repair maintenance. He retired from the United States Air Force after 24 years. During his military career, he worked as a Crew Chief and Superintendent on C-5, C-141, C-130, C-9 and C-17 aircraft. He became a master instructor teaching C-141, C-130 and C-5 aircraft maintenance. Zachary has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Talladega College, and two Associates Degrees from the Community College of the Air Force in both Aircraft Maintenance and Military Instructor of Technology.

1. Name: Zachary Edison
2. What they do at the museum? Restoration Technician
3. When did they join the team? June 2011
4. Their favorite part of their job? Going to get rare aircraft and bringing them to the museum for restoration and seeing the finished project
5. What would people be surprised to learn about them? Like to go to science fiction movies
6. What do they do in their free time? Restoring a 1953 Chevy truck
7. Favorite Movie? Ghost Busters
8. Favorite Restaurant? Apple Bee’s
9. Describe their dream vacation. Trip to Germany to tour and see old friends
It is as though we have grown wings, which thanks to Providence, we have learnt to control. — Louis Bl—riot, Atlantic Monoplanes of tomorrow.

Elizabeth Grady

Events Manager


What do you do at the museum? I book museum hosted events from weddings and rehearsal dinners, corporate parties, non-profit fundraisers to bar mitzvah’s, quinceanera’s and baby showers. I also run the Mary Alice Beatty scholarship, a $5,000 scholarship for young women ages 19-30 pursuing their careers in aviation and aerospace.
When did you join the museum team? April 2012
What is your favorite part of your job? Besides the beautiful weddings and events I get to host, I am learning new and exciting facts in aviation history every day, sometimes directly from the people who lived it. The stories shared have been awe inspiring and I love learning new stories and sharing them with others.
What would people be surprised to learn about you? Before this job my main career was in entertainment managing amazing artist performances and events with headliners like Pavarotti, The Bolshoi Ballet, Herbie Hancock, Mavis Staple at great venues like the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
What do you do in your free time? Walk and listen to podcasts.
Favorite Movie? Blade Runner
Favorite Restaurant? Cocoa Bar - Lower East Side in NYC
Describe your dream vacation. Living in Dublin, Ireland and working at the Abbey Theatre for a year.
You haven't seen a tree until you've seen its shadow from the sky. — Amelia Earhart

Charles "Charlie" Phillips

Educator & Special Projects Assistant to the Director


Charlie joined the Southern Museum of Flight team in June 2014 with an extensive aviation career spanning over forty years. His career includes working as a lineman for Bill Woods Beechcraft and an estimator & planner on the C-12 Program. Charlie also served as a final assembly and operations supervisor on the USAF KC-135 Stratotanker, as well as the location manager for the Birmingham Airport AMR series and AMR Combs. Charlie attended undergraduate flight training at Williams AFB in Arizona. He graduated from Jefferson State in Business Administration and the Air National Guard Officer Training School, Academy of Military Science, as a member of the 117th Tactical Recon Squadron and holds a private pilot certificate from Bill Woods Beechcraft.

What do you do at the Museum? Education/ Tour Guide
When did you join the museum team? 2014
What is your favorite part of your job? Teaching history and sciences relative to the museum
What would people be surprised to learn about you? Astronomy, Blacksmithing and a current Banjo student
Favorite Movie? Patton
Favorite Restaurant? Pinnacle Peek- Phoenix Arizona
Describe your dream vacation? Pearl Harbor, Normandy Beach and various other WWII battlefields
Don't let the fear of falling keep you from knowing the joy of flight. — Lane Wallace, Flying magazine, January 2001.

Melissa C. Morgan

Education Coordinator


Melissa joined the Southern Museum of Flight team in 2014 and has served in the museum and University fields for over 15 years. Most recently, she served as the Director of Brenau University Galleries in Gainesville, GA, as well as the Assistant Director of Centre for Living Arts and Executive Director of the Pensacola Museum of Art. Melissa has received several international, national, and state recognition awards, and recently selected to attend the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Non-Profit Management Leadership Seminar. She has held leadership positions for the American Alliance of Museums, Southeastern Museums Conference, and Alabama Museums Association as well as serving as a grant review panelist for the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Ms. Morgan holds a M.A. in Art History and a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama and an M.B.A., Management, from the University of South Alabama.

What do you do at the Museum? Education
When did you join the museum team? 2014
What is your favorite part of your job? Teaching children and creating partnerships
What would people be surprised to learn about you? I taught sailing for 5 years
Favorite Movie? Pride & Prejudice
Favorite Restaurant? Surin West
Describe your dream vacation? Sailing the Mediterranean
My soul is in the sky. — William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream