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Hill Aerospace Museum cuts ribbon on new gallery; public can get first view this week

By Rob Nielsen - | Apr 30, 2024
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Dignitaries cut the ribbon to open the Hill Aerospace Museum's new L.S. Skaggs Gallery on Monday, April 29, 2024.
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The Hill Aerospace Museum's newly built L.S. Skaggs Gallery is shown Monday, April 29, 2024.
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Col. Jeffrey Holland, 75th Air Base Wing and installation commander at Hill Air Force Base, speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Hill Aerospace Museum's newly built L.S. Skaggs Gallery on Monday, April 29, 2024.
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Aircraft are displayed inside the Hill Aerospace Museum's new L.S. Skaggs Gallery on Monday, April 29, 2024.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The Hill Aerospace Museum started off the week with an opportunity to celebrate a long-sought expansion of its ability to tell the story of Hill Air Force Base and the United States Air Force as a whole.

Monday morning, a ceremony was held to cut the ribbon on the new L.S. Skaggs Gallery, the museum’s third indoor gallery for housing aircraft and other historical items.

Ahead of Monday’s ribbon-cutting, Hill Aerospace Museum Director Aaron Clark told the media that it’s meaningful to see this new gallery becoming a reality.

“It’s almost overwhelming to see it finally done,” he said. “It’s been a 10-year effort to make this happen and it took the whole community to bring resources and support together to get it in place.”

The L.S. Skaggs Gallery has nearly 91,000 square feet of exhibition space and already hosts several aircraft, including a U-2 “Dragon Lady,” an SR-71 “Blackbird” and an F-22 “Raptor” among several planes with space for more. The Skaggs Gallery accounts for a 70% increase in exhibition space for the museum, where the bulk of the aircraft have been housed in two indoor galleries with the remainder being outside.

However, Clark said the new gallery will change this dynamic and allow for the base’s story to be told more easily.

“It allows us to bring the aircraft that are outside in the elements … indoors and better care for them,” he said. “Also with those aircraft, when we bring them in, we can build the storylines around those aircraft with the airmen from Utah that contributed in some way or form to that type of system. In addition to that, it gives us more space to bring more into the collection to expand on the story even more.”

He said around 15-20 aircraft have been or will be moved into the new building from their positions outside.

Clark said having spaces like this to better display aircraft and other associated memorabilia goes beyond the physical collection housed inside.

“What’s important is not the aircraft,” he said. “Protecting the aircraft is really cool and we should protect these items. But the most important part part, I think, is to tell the airmen’s story — the contributions and the sacrifices made by our airmen that a lot of people really don’t know. They might hear something on the news or they might read something in their textbooks, but when they come here, we’re hoping to bring that story alive to them and better explain and immerse them in those sacrifices and those contributions that those airmen made to our country. Not only that, most of those airmen that we’re talking about are from their state — the state of Utah — so it’s their local heroes that are making this difference to protect their freedoms.”

Monday’s ribbon-cutting saw the gallery open its west side hangar doors to a blue-skied morning that featured a flyover of two F-35s to celebrate the brand-new space. Several dignitaries also spoke about the opening of the L.S. Skaggs Gallery and its meaning to the museum and those who have served and continue to serve in the Air Force.

Among those speaking was Col. Jeffrey Holland, 75th Air Base Wing and installation commander at Hill Air Force Base.

“The impact of this gallery will be felt globally and locally,” he said. “We will continue to build the public’s knowledge of Utah’s aviation heritage and its contributions to national defense. We will continue to attract more than 350,000 visitors from within the community, or from the state of Utah, or across the nation and around the world. Everyone who visits this museum leaves impressed and inspired.”

The L.S. Skaggs Gallery will officially open to the public Thursday.


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