Photo of Wil Shellenberger, Museum president

This past quarter dealt your Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum a series of hard punches. COVID 19 was the first punch. Cancellation of the 2020 Celebration of Flight (COF) Dinner Auction hit next. To fill a large budget hole, the 2020 Mid-Year Fundraising Appeal had to be ramped up early. Then came the emotionally charged turmoil surrounding George Floyd’s death in May. In the midst of all this, an opportunity arose to acquire land in Oak Harbor for the new museum. “From the Chair,” Jim Siggens writes about flexibility – we needed buckets full!

After the museum’s March closure, our financial hopes rested on the annual COF that usually provides about $40,000 for the yearly operating budget. But, COVID 19’s spread, and the resulting economic/social shutdown forced cancellation of COF. Without visitor generated admission, gift shop or donation revenue, the budget challenge is serious. Normally the Mid-year Appeal fundraiser provides another $40,000 in operating funds. Despite the museum closure, the Mid-year Appeal had to be launched early to try doubling the “normal” appeal results. Mail Team volunteers put out the Appeal mailing while observing physical distancing at the museum or working at home.

$60,000 is the minimum needed to cover operating expenses through year end. $80,000 brings the museum back to the budget as projected at the beginning of the year. We have adequate capital funds to complete the land purchase with a bank loan. The land is in escrow and a local civil engineering firm is doing due diligence on the site. While it is not yet a done deal,  we are closer than ever before. So, we must show bank lenders that we have sufficient operating funds to sustain museum operations.

COVID 19 continues threatening our national health and economy. Racial tensions inflamed by George Floyd’s death equally threaten the nation’s social and political fabric. Rarely has the country faced two such disparate challenges at one time. There are no easy solutions to either of them.

This is a tough time for a little museum in the Pacific Northwest to seek financial support. Like our beloved country, your museum also faces two big challenges. Though small scale compared to the country’s, they are still daunting. Given these troubled times, we are heartened by your initial donation response to the Mid-year Appeal. You can monitor our progress on Facebook and at where donations can be made electronically, or by mail to PO Box 941, Oak Harbor, WA 98277.