091 Donation Timeline:
The opportunity to plan the "Final Journey Home" was facilitated in May of 2003 through an e mail from the Smithsonian expressing their desire to display a Huey helicopter as part of a substantial new exhibit at the National Museum of American History.
In June, the Smithsonian sent two of their Curators to the DFW area to measure and photograph aircraft 091 in anticipation of it's donation in support of the Smithsonian's Price of Freedom Exhibit. To ensure that the donation of the aircraft was in keeping with the philanthropic standards set forth by the Smithsonian, MG (Ret.) Dick Stephenson, Committee Chairman, drafted a three page memorandum for record which articulated the structure, scope, and intent of what would be a truly philanthropic donation. The MFR was reviewed by 091 committee members as well as other organizations associated with the aircraft and subsequently this proposal was submitted to the Smithsonian during followup meetings in Washington from 21-23 July 2003.
An additional meeting was held in Dallas on 24 July with Former Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, a Smithsonian Board Member, to bring the Secretary up to date on the status of aircraft 091 and to seek opportunities for assistance with the funding of the project. 091 Committee members as well as members from projects in which the aircraft had participated were in attendance. An important aspect to the success of the fund raising dynamics was that there would be no material benefit to anyone associated with the project to bring America's Huey Home, this would be a philanthropic project in the truest sense, the only benefit derived would be to our Country, our citizens, and the millions of Veterans this mission will honor.
On August 1st, 2003 DynCorp, a CSC Company, committed to make a donation to the Texas Air Command Museum resulting in the ability of the Museum to donate aircraft 091 to the Smithsonian free and clear. With continued support from US Helicopter, soon American Airlines and the Allied Pilots Association pledged their support; providing air travel and other in kind support vital to the ability to effectively plan one final mission for aircraft 091. In short order, Bell aircraft rounded out our needed support as they proudly committed essential resources to ensure a safe and successful journey.
With the fate of the aircraft well in hand, the committee, along with the staff at the Smithsonian, worked collaboratively to ensure that the aircraft's final mission would reflect the educational value of the aircraft as a living piece of history. Just as important, a mission was created to pay tribute to our Vietnam Veterans as well as all Veterans for their selfless service and sacrifice to preserve freedom, and to honor those that have paid the ultimate price answering our Nation's call.
On 18 August 2003 we received a letter from the Associate Director of the Smithsonian expressing her "heartfelt gratitude" for the donation of the Huey Helicopter citing the fact that the mission and history of the Texas Air Command Museum leaves no doubt about the relationship of the helicopter with a truly not for profit organization. The Associate Director further articulated that the donation of the helicopter represents a philanthropic donation and should not be confused with previous commercial ventures in which the aircraft participated.
On the 9th of September during an emotional ceremony in Fort Worth, Tx, we were honored to present to Dr. Brent Glass, Director, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the official letter of intent to donate aircraft 091 to the Smithsonian. That donation will culminate on 19 March with the donation of the aircraft on the Mall in our Nation's Capital, it will be the highpoint of a final journey for an aircraft with tremendous meaning to millions of Veterans, an aircraft with a distinctive sound, what some refer to as the "sound of freedom."