Shannon Airport was founded in the 1950s by Sidney Shannon Jr, as part of his love for aviation and to honor his father Sidney Shannon Sr (on right of picture). Sidney Shannon Sr was one of the founders of Eastern Airlines with legendary World War I Ace Eddie Rickenbacker. Over the next 30 years the airport became a landmark general aviation airport in the state of Virginia and beyond. In the mid-70s, Shannon founded the Shannon Air Museum at his airport which was one of the largest collections of rare aircraft in the world at the time. The Airport had air shows, and fly-ins on a regular basis at which time many of the museum aircraft would be flown. Sidney Shannon Jr passed away in 1981, and thereafter the aircraft were dispersed and moved to Richmond Virginia.
Over the next 30 years or so the airport went through many changes. It went from 125 acres to 61 acres, the museum building closed and was sold off to a local business, which has changed hands several times. The airport land was owned by developers who had planned to ultimately eliminate the airport and develop the property. In the early 1990s Billy Toombs who worked for Mr. Shannon since the time she was 17 years old, and Robert Stanley, were able to raise money and purchase the airport from the bank, as the development company ceased to exist. The new owners did a great job keeping the airport an airport. With the costs rising and health concerns they had a difficult time keeping the airport up and running. The airport became in disrepair with much need for restoration.
In 2004 Luke Curtas, a businessman in Fredericksburg Virginia, started taking flying lessons at Shannon Airport. He and his wife Kim owned a manufacturing business, and as the business grew they felt the need to be able to get out, and see their customer base on the east coast, more efficiently. Commercial travel had become very difficult in regards to time frames to and from airports, delays waiting for the flights, security checkpoints, etc. Being an aviator turned a three day business trip, into a one day, leave after breakfast, and return before dinner adventure. Curtas grew up around aviation and always was fascinated with aircraft. In April 2006 he became a private instrument rated pilot, who based his aircraft at Shannon.
In 2012, Luke started to talk to Robert and Billy about purchasing the airport. Knowing the history of the airport, and his care for the community in regards to preserving and not losing such a historical part of aviation, Luke and Kim Curtas purchased Shannon Airport in February 2014.
Repairs and restoration started immediately! The old terminal was remodeled and completely restored as well as the ramp for aircraft parking, and the parking lot for vehicles. The runway was repaired and the runway lights restored and the taxiways repaired. Many of the museum artifacts were never moved to Richmond and were in various locations at the airport. As restoration started and continued these artifacts were brought out and placed around the terminal. The old hangar that was attached to the terminal building, where the 1927 Curtiss Robinson Aircraft was stored, was turned into the Robins Nest Café, and flight store. "When we originally started the restoration of the airport it was obvious to me that it would be great to get the Shannon aircraft collection in Richmond back home at Shannon airport if possible", Curtas said. Conversation was started with various entities in regards to bringing the collection back. The big maintenance hangar that was once the facility where most of these aircraft were worked on and restored was completely refurbished and conditioned with humidity control, in anticipation of the collection returning home to Shannon. In the early summer of 2016, and by the grace of God, this dream was realized.
The Museum is now open and houses one of the rarest collections of vintage aircraft in the world. At Shannon Air Museum you can enjoy and possibly become a part of aviation history. Come discover famous aviators, view historic artifacts, and learn about the founding of one of the first major airlines. Just imagine, you can walk, drive, or fly in to visit this unique Museum that immerses you in the past, and prepares you for the future.
Come visit us soon at the Shannon Air Museum!