Hundreds of community leaders gathered to break ground on the new Hickory Aviation Museum & CVCC Workforce Innovation Center building on Thursday morning, October 26th. The museum serves as an educational institution in Hickory, promoting a passion for military aviation and preserving the legacy of our nation’s many veterans and aviation heroes.
The new building will be an exciting attraction for thousands of visitors a year, while also providing Catawba Valley Community College with a new Workforce Innovation Center that can accommodate up to 1,000 students for instruction in fields ranging from aviation with flight simulators to courses in artificial intelligence.
“We’re aligning the efforts with all our major universities and local community colleges here within the Catawba Valley to really design something that’s unique, that we don’t already offer here and that’s going to provide an opportunity for these young people to have different opportunities than what is currently available today,” CVCC President Garrett Hinshaw said at the groundbreaking.
Frank Weisser, a retired U.S. Navy commander and former Blue Angels pilot who worked on the 2022 blockbuster film “Top Gun: Maverick” and flew the museum’s Blue Angels jet to Hickory in 2022, said the museum “brings aviation to life,” and will now stand as among the finest aviation museums in the country.
“This project combines creative design, a commitment to education, and incredible community support,” said McMillan Pazdan Smith Principal David Moore. MPS designed the 105,000 square foot building and David E. Looper & Co is the (GM) general contractor. The building is situated on the highest point in Hickory, features a hangar that will house the museum’s aircraft collection, a simulations lab, classrooms, and a third-floor food service venue with 270-degree scenic views of the Catawba valley and blue ridge mountains.
“We’ve got work to do. We’ve got to teach and inspire kids because we love this country,” said Kyle Kirby, who with his brother Kregg started the museum over 30 years ago by bringing a single FJ-3 “Fury” plane to Hickory Regional Airport.
The new building is being funded by a combination of investments from the state, the city of Hickory, Catawba County, Long View, and private donations.
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