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Society / Featured Parties

Houston’s New $38 Million Vintage Plane Museum Previewed with Dashing Men in Uniform

Up in the Air Gala Brings in $1.1 Million

BY // 05.26.17
photography Alexander's Fine Portrait Design, Kevin McGowan Photography

From the mezzanine overlooking the grand hall of the spanking new (yet to be publicly opened) Lone Star Flight Museum, rather than the anticipated collection of vintage aircraft, guests looked down on a spectacular party setting. Tables for 1,000 dressed in patriotic red and white bursts of flowers with blue touches, flags of all the armed services and two brightly-colored historic planes as anchors to the stage.

There could not have been a more patriotic gathering on this Armed Forces Day as a record gala crowd gathered for this first look at the impressive museum at Ellington Airport. The black-tie, military mess dress gala doubled as an unveiling of the $38 million aviation history and STEM museum set to open Labor Day weekend and as a celebration of four inductees to the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame.

It was an action packed evening that began with a stirring musical “Salute to the Armed Forces” by the Sanctuary Choir of Clear Lake United Methodist Church and presentation of the colors by five branches of the U.S. military. Veteran of both the Air Force and the media, Don Nelson emceed the packed evening.

John Nau, chairman of the Texas Historical Commission and Silver Eagle Distributors CEO, conducted the induction ceremony that included a video introduction of each. Receiving honors were former President George W. Bush, (represented by his nephew, Pierce Bush), Major General Benjamin D. Foulois (1879-1967), Albert W. “Al” Mooney (1906-1986), and the 111the Aero Squadron.

Also recognized was Marshall Cloyd, who received the second Lifetime Achievement Award which was presented by museum board chair Scott Rozzell.

The evening was chaired by Lisa and Jerry Simon and Cathy and Joe Cleary, whose firm D.E. Harvey Builders was contracted for construction of the museum. This foursome led the night to $1.1 million in proceeds, surpassing the original goal.

Before settling into the vast exhibition hall, guests prowled throughout the 130,000 square foot museum inspecting World War II fighter planes and trying their hand in the STEM laboratory where elementary pilot training is offered.

Behind the scenes, insuring that all ran smoothly were evening producers Nancy Ames and Danny Ward and the entire City Kitchen staff, which proved once again that big crowds are a piece of cake for the talented team.

Up in the air:  Museum architect Joe Webb, Emily and Bud Arnot, Rosemary and Dick Estenson, David Harvey, Debby Rihn Harvey, Betty and Steve Newton, Stephanie and Rod Paige, Karen Rozzell, Pam and Russell Thorstenberg, Betty and John Hrncir, Bette and Ralph Thomas, Leslie and Jack Blanton, and Linda and Barry Hunsaker.

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