The Flying Leatherneck aviation museum will close its doors

Due to budgetary constraints The Flying Leatherneck United States Marines Corps Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar (CA) will permanently close on 1 April 2021.

The annual cost of approximately USD 400,000 is paid for by MCAS Miramar. The based commander, Col Charles Dockery, unfortunately had to decide that due to budget constraints these funds will no longer be available.

The museum was established in 1989 on the grounds of MCAS El Toro (CA). When this air station was closed as part of the Base Realignment programme in 1999, the museum moved to MCAS Miramar (CA).

Annually about 35,000 people visit the museum. The last ten to fifteen years, the museum was struggling to come to an agreement with the commanders of the air station on absolving the Marines Corps of the overhead. Negotiations failed and now it was announced that the budget is required for higher-priority missions.

The museum staff states that forty historical aircraft and helicopters in various states of preservation are present at the museum. All represent the rich aviation history of the United States Marines Corps from the Second World War to today.

We probably do no justice to the collection by not naming them all, but some of the aircraft on display are a B-25J Mitchell, FM-2 Wildcat, F4U-5NL Corsair, A-4F Skyhawk, TA-4J Skyhawk, A-6E Intruder, RF-4B Phantom, F-4S Phantom, F-5E Tiger II, RF-8G Crusader, F9F-2 Panther, EF-10B Skynight, F/A-18A Hornet, AH-1J Cobra, UH-1N “Huey” Iroquois, CH-53A Sea Stallion, AV-8A Harrier and OV-10D Bronco.

The most recent addition is an EA-6B Prowler which was added to the collection on 4 February 2014. Arguably the most unique aircraft on display is an Iraqi air force Bell 214ST which was captured by US Marines during the 1991 Gulf War.

It is not yet clear what will happen to the aircraft and other artifacts on display. In the press statement announcing the closure the spokesperson of MCAS Miramar mentioned that discussions started with the San Diego Air & Space Museum and the USS Midway Museum. Also, the Marines Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego (CA) has expressed interest in putting an aircraft on display at their Navajo Codetalker exhibit. On the website of The Flying Leatherneck museum itself it is stated that some aircraft are at risk of being scrapped.

The museum started an action asking the public to reach out to members of Congress and Marines Corps leaders in an attempt to overthrow the decision. The chance that this will be successful is very small, but hopefully we can report in the future that this article can be ignored and that The Flying Leatherneck Museum will not close its doors!







Photos by Erik-Jan Engelen

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