Walton-led nonprofit to buy military museum in Washington

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 2,781 views 

A new nonprofit started by Bentonville entrepreneur and philanthropist Steuart Walton will acquire the Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum in Everett, Wash., according to a Thursday (Aug. 4) news release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but proceeds will be earmarked for philanthropy.

Directed by Walton, the nonprofit Wartime History Museum was established in early 2022 to preserve and restore wartime artifacts and to make them available through exhibitions, museum properties and public spaces, including in the sky. The nonprofit will purchase the artifacts and assets of Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum.

It was founded by the late philanthropist Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, who died in October 2018, and opened in 2004. The museum’s collection includes 20th-century military artifacts, including airplanes, tanks and armaments, from Germany, Great Britain, Japan, the United States and the former Soviet Union.

“This incredible collection reminds us of the significance vintage aircraft and other historic vehicles have had on our nation and globe,” Walton said. “On behalf of my fellow WHM board members, we hope to share these important artifacts for generations to come and unearth inspiring stories to help fuel innovation, understanding and exploration.”

The museum continued to operate after Allen’s death in 2018 but has been closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Care and restoration of its artifacts have continued, and its assets are being sold consistent with Allen’s wishes, the release shows.

“It has been my honor and privilege to help develop and care for this amazing collection, share it with the public, and preserve and celebrate the important military history and human stories of which we are caretakers,” said Adrian Hunt, executive director of Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum. “I am thrilled that the museum’s mission and impact will continue under the leadership of Steuart and the Wartime History Museum. I look forward to FHCAM continuing to educate and inspire the community through compelling artifacts and engaging exhibits that honor those who served their country.”

Wartime History Museum plans to reopen the Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum at its existing location within the next year.

“This is wonderful news that a fellow nonprofit, founded by another visionary and conscientious leader, will continue FHCAM’s mission and Paul’s vision,” said Steve Hinton, president of the Planes of Fame Air Museum and former principal test pilot at Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum. “Paul curated an amazing collection of significant aircraft and machines that tell strong and important stories that need to be remembered and celebrated.”

According to the museum’s website, Allen began acquiring and preserving the aircraft and vehicles in 1998. In 2008, the collection was moved from its home in Arlington, Wash., to its existing location on Paine Field in Everett. The museum includes nearly 75,000 square feet of exhibit space, 26 aircraft and more than 25 vehicles.

Walton, a pilot, co-founded Bentonville-based Game Composites, an aerobatic airplane manufacturer, and serves on the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum board. He and his brother, Tom Walton, led efforts to build Thaden Fieldhouse at Bentonville Municipal Airport. The brothers also lead Runway Group, a diversified holding company based in Bentonville, and recently hosted the annual invitation-only UP.Summit in Bentonville.