Another month, and another step closer to finalizing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) . This MOU will commit the USMC, City of Irvine, Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum and Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation, to the establishment of the museum at Great Park.
I am thrilled to share with you that earlier this month, LtGen Kevin (Wolfe) Iiams, Commanding General, Training and Education Command (TECOM), signed the MOU on behalf of the Marine Corps. The National Museum of the Marine Corps (NMMC), which owns the aircraft and artifact collection. falls within the TECOM chain-of-command. LtGen Iiams has been a staunch supporter of executing a loan agreement with the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation (FLHF) and the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum (FLAM) since taking over the helm at TECOM.
But we would never have gotten off first base had it not been for the support of BGen Jason (Woody) Woodworth. Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations West – Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. He and his staff were strong advocates on our behalf. They presented our business and fundraising plans as well as a program of actions and milestones that provided the assurances to the Marine Corps of the feasibility and sustainability of our project to relocate the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum back to its original home at the former MCAS El Toro, now called Great Park.
The MOU now sits with the city of Irvine awaiting approval at their May 24 city council meeting. Representatives from the FLHF and FLAM have already approved and signed the MOU. As we await the final signature from the city, we continue to collaborate with our partners at Siteline Productions Inc, our contracted developers and planners, and the city’s contracted architectural and engineering firm, the IBI Group, on the design of the new museum facility and the surrounding grounds of the Cultural Terrace.
We are also interviewing transportation companies and reviewing bids for the transportation of the collection. If all goes as planned, we hope to take custody of the collection later in the year or early next year. In anticipation of taking custody of the collection, we have also begun discussion with potential curatorial and restoration staff and other necessary museum staff to help establish the new museum. Of course, they will all need workspaces, so we have reached out to Construction Battalion Group One (the CBs) to begin discussions on having them complete a substantial portion of the Tenant Improvement (TI) requirements, e.g., offices, conference rooms, museum store, canteen and possibly more.
Even after the MOU is finalized, none of this will happen unless we have the necessary funding. In only nine months we were able to meet our two-year fundraising goal of $5 million dollars through a combination of donations and pledges. Once the MOU is signed, we will be collecting on the pledges. Not surprisingly, given the size and complexity of the project, we have already budgeted and identified where the $5 million will be spent. Therefore, we have targeted an additional $3 million dollars, and with the assistance of professional fundraising, hope to raise even more. We are already in the process of planning a major fundraising campaign. When contacted, I hope all of you will be able to help make the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum a reality.