AR Air & Military Museum Struggles Financially

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The Arkansas Air and Military Museum is organizing "Airport Day" Saturday (June 21) to promote its historic airplanes. They are having a hard time paying for their operations due to a decrease in visitors, according to its board of directors.

Airport Day will include tours, pancakes in the morning and hamburgers and hot dogs in the afternoon. The food is included in the price of admission.

The Arkansas Air and Military Museum opened in 1986. Their collection includes airplanes from the 1920s and 1930s as well as military aircraft from WWI, WWII and Vietnam.

"It is the only air museum in the state of Arkansas and it's here in town," said Russell Smith, board member. "There's another one in Tulsa but this is it for Arkansas and it's a great museum. They have a lot of great stuff here."

It's located on highway 71 in South Fayetteville next to Drake Field, which used to be Northwest Arkansas' main airport before XNA was built in 1998.

Smith said since XNA and Interstate 540 opened, foot traffic shrunk. The museum went from 26,000 a year to 6,000 a year, he said.

Smith said that they've been operating in the red. For example, it cost about $7,000 a month to maintain the museum and they are making about $5,000 a month, he said.

"Hopefully we can generate enough income to keep the doors open for the indefinite future," Smith said.

The museum also showcases military weapons, vehicles and uniforms. It only has on paid employee and everyone else who keeps it running is a volunteer.

Airport Day starts at 8 a.m. It will celebrated the third Saturday of each month, at least through the end of Summer.

Admission for adults is $10, for kids six to 12 years old is $5. A family with kids 16 and under, can get in for just $20. They also offer senior and military discounts.

Sam Walton

Sam Walton's first airplane is on display at the Arkansas Air & Military Museum in Fayetteville.

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