Tulsa Air & Space Museum Opens Its Newest Exhibit

Monday, April 7th 2014, 1:55 pm
By: Dave Davis

The Tulsa Air and Space Museum at Tulsa International Airport cut the ribbon on its newest exhibit Monday morning. The exhibit is an American Airlines MD-80 aircraft. The airline donated the retired plane in 2010.

4/12/2013 Related Story: Tulsa Air And Space Museum Preps American Airlines Jet For Display

TASM says Monday's event marked the end of a three-year project to turn the aircraft into a multi-purpose facility. Inside the airplane, visitors will see the cockpit and 24 first-class cabin seats.

For Julie Soper, a 35 year veteran Flight Attendant at American Airlines who used to fly in this very aircraft, it brings back fond memories.

"It's amazing! Totally clean, new, it's going to be great for education," Soper said.

Soper was among several Americans Airlines executives, museum staff and pilots who got a first glimpse into the revamped MD-80.

"We are extremely grateful for the corporate citizenship displayed by American Airlines through their donation of this multi-million dollar asset," said Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium Board President, Carmine Romano.

TASM officials say the remaining cabin area will be left open as a classroom and even a party venue.

Ray Booker is a 1957 OSU graduate, with a degree in aeronautical engineering. He helped come up with this concept for the plane, and thinks they'll eventually set up experiment stations, to help students with problem-solving skills.

"So they get to pick an engine and put it one there, and if they pick the wrong one, the airplane won't get off the ground. Or you pick a rocket engine, and it gets off the ground, but it crashes," Booker said.

Mary Smith, TASM Executive Director, said, "Classes that involve Science Technology Engineering and Math, but in a way that kids don't know they're actually studying and learning."

Owasso Public Schools and Tulsa's Street School have already booked spots for next school year to incorporate the MD-80 into their curriculum.