As the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame draws closer to its mission of building a museum that celebrates our past and inspires our future, we are aware that some in the skydiving community have questions about how this goal will be realized.
Our goal is to be transparent as we work through the process of making the physical museum a reality by addressing the various queries about the museum’s legitimacy and plans. It’s our hope that by sharing information we can provide clarity to those that are unsure and generate excitement for those eager to see the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame come to life.
Questions and Answers
It seems that the idea of the Museum & Hall of Fame has been around for a long time and yet, we still have no building leading to skepticism about its legitimacy. Why should anyone support this effort if there is nothing to show for the efforts that have been made so far?
The idea of the museum surfaced many years ago as an inspiration of renowned skydiving visionary Bill Ottley. With skydiving becoming a sport in the mid-1950s, it was not Ottley’s intent to proceed immediately. With only 20 years of recreational skydiving history at the time, Ottley's vision was not to build a museum and hall of fame immediately, but rather to imbed the idea of eventually having a museum and hall of fame based on his belief that skydiving would someday be worthy of both. Ottley knew that skydiving needed time to develop its history before a museum would be valid and viable. As such, the project was intentionally static for many years until his passing.
Ottley provided a significant gift to the museum in his will. That funding allowed the concept of the museum to start to move forward. While substantial, the gift was paid over a decade. It provided critical seed money for the project but was not sufficient for the project to proceed without significant additional support.
The effort to bring the project to fruition did not start in earnest until late 2016 when sufficient funds had been raised to allow for a design firm to be hired to develop the conceptual plans for the museum and exhibits. Those designs allowed for the start of a capital campaign to raise the funds for the construction of the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame. To date, the campaign has raised over $3.6 million.
Is the recent news of land acquisition in central Florida for the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame true?
Yes. On November 12, 2020, the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame took ownership of the site in the Orlando area where the facility will be constructed. The land is located on the south side of West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway which is also West US 192. The site is 3.9 miles west of World Drive and West 192 which is the access point to the Disney attractions. No address has yet been assigned to the site, but it is approximately 8526 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, Florida 34747.
What are the tangible gains to show for the efforts of the International Skydiving Museum and Hall of Fame?
If realized, how does the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame expect to sustain itself financially? Shouldn’t it be proven that the museum is a viable concept before it is built in its entirety?
Yes. This is the plan. The building and exhibits of the Museum & Hall of Fame will be built in phases based on the availability of funds and visitor revenue. This is not a unique concept. Many museums have used the same strategy. As an example, the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia opened in 2006 and continues to build out its exhibits. We plan to follow this proven model.
Is there sound research on the economic sustainability of the Museum & Hall of Fame?
Yes. Before purchasing the future site of the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame, ConsultEcon in Cambridge, Massachusetts was retained to assess the economic feasibility of the project and the location. ConsultEcon is a well-respected economic analysis firm specializing in assessing museum projects worldwide. Their research-validated the proposed location and plans for the facility as economically viable.
Is the success of the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame tied to the success of the adjacent wind tunnels?
We are thrilled to have the first wingsuit wind tunnel in the United States and only the second such facility in the world next door to us. In addition, a site for a vertical wind tunnel has been secured on the other side of the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame. When both tunnels are complete, they will be the only place in the world where a wingsuit tunnel and a vertical tunnel are co-located.
These facilities will serve as traffic generators for the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame. In turn, the museum will generate traffic for the wind tunnels. It is an intentionally mutually advantageous situation.
Neither of these facilities will be owned by the museum nor does the museum have a financial interest in them. They will be operated by experienced and sophisticated organizations with a keen interest in their financial success and sustainability.
What are the next steps for the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame? When will it be open?
During 2021, we will be seeking financial support from the skydiving community to help fund the project. The amount raised will dictate the scope of the first phase of the building and exhibits. While we anticipate challenges related to COVID in 2021, we are committed to drive this project forward as we did in 2020 with the acquisition of the land in Florida. At the end of 2021, we will begin the process of designing the building and obtaining the permits required to begin construction. Simultaneously, the design of the exhibits will be underway. The next step will be breaking ground and construction.