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SEATTLE-With hope of becoming “the pre-eminent forum for experiencing and celebrating the wonder of flight,” the non-profit Museum of Flight on Tuesday ceremoniously launched the first phase of a three-part, $140-million master expansion plan that will more than double the size of the Museum facility over the next 10 years. Its completion will make the Museum the largest independent air and space museum in the world.

The first phase of the expansion, supported by a $59.3 million capital campaign, will result in the construction of the Personal Courage Wing, an 88,000-square-foot addition at the north end of the Museum’s existing campus that will provide a Seattle home for the aircraft of the Museum’s Champlin Fighter Collection, currently on display in Mesa, Ariz. The Personal Courage Wing is slated to open to the public in the spring of 2004.

The second phase, the Red Barn Pavilion, will be launched after the completion of the Personal Courage Wing. This steel-and-glass building will join the existing Great Gallery and the new Personal Courage Wing–and completely enclose the Red Barn, the 1909 all-wooden factory building that is the birthplace of The Boeing Co. and the Museum’s largest artifact.

The final phase on will be a Commercial Aviation Wing. It will be built to the northwest of the existing Museum campus across East Marginal Way. And connect to the Personal Courage Wing via a sky bridge. It ultimately will house very large artifacts of the Museum’s commercial aircraft collection, including the prototypes of the Boeing 727, 737 and 747 airliners, among many others.

“The expansion will enable The Museum of Flight to realize its ambition of becoming a venue in which visitors of all ages and backgrounds can not only see historically significant air- and spacecraft but also hear the voices of their pilots and designers,” said H. Eugene McBrayer, chairman of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “Our patrons will be able to immerse themselves in times and places far removed from everyday life and interact with the history and the future of flight more personally and profoundly than ever before.”

Design work for all three phases of the expansion has been undertaken by NBBJ, the Seattle architecture firm that designed SAFECO Field, the highly regarded home of the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Seattle-based companies Sellen Construction and the Seneca Real Estate Group have been chosen as prime contractor and project management firm, respectively.

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